Abu Qatada, once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden‘s righthand man in Europe, was released from Long Lartin maximum security prison this evening on strict bail conditions, including a 22-hour curfew.
His release was ordered last month when three high court judges upheld the radical Palestinian-Jordanian preacher’s appeal against deportation to Amman on the grounds that he was likely to face a terrorism trial based on evidence from witnesses who had been tortured.
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said she was extremely disappointed the courts had granted him bail. “I am appealing to the House of Lords to reverse the decision that it is not safe to deport Qatada.”
He is required to wear an electronic tag, banned from using mobile phones or computers, and be required to get Home Office permission to see visitors other than family members or lawyers.
The bail conditions, outlined in papers released earlier today by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, are tougher than the terms of the Home Office control orders imposed on terror suspects. The 22-hour curfew in his west London home is believed to be the longest yet imposed. The law lords ruled last year that an 18-hour curfew breached the human rights of those subject to a control order.
Qatada is banned from associating with named people including Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Hamza, another radical preacher, and Rachid Ramda, who was convicted of masterminding the 1995 terror bombings on the Paris metro. Unusually, he is also banned from attending any mosque or leading prayers or giving lectures.
He was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and of a millennium bomb plot.