Hate preacher Abu Qatada was released from prison last night – and even his own 70-year-old mother called for him to be sent back to Jordan.
The radical cleric – once described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe” – who had been held at Worcestershire maximum security jail Long Lartin, left under the cover of darkness at 9.15pm.
He was accompanied by four minders and was driven away from the jail in the back seat.
Qatada, who was in detention for six-and-a-half years, covered his face with his hand as the Volkswagen people carrier left the high-security jail in Evesham and headed to London.
Last night the 51-year-old fanatic’s mother, Aisha Othman, said her son had been away from Jordan too long and even blamed British authorities for keeping him there.
Mrs Othman reportedly said: “Britain is very wrong to keep my son. He has been away too long. We want him home now. I don’t know why the British keep him. There is no good reason. I can’t see why they would want him.”
Speaking from the family home in Amman, Jordan, Qatada’s younger brother revealed the family was frightened he would be tortured in Jordan.
Ibrahim Abu Omar Othman, 32, said they last spoke a few months ago.
Mr Othman is reported to have said: “I wish very much to have him back, of course, but I am worried he will be tortured if he returns if there is not a special agreement to say he cannot be harmed and that he will have fair treatment by the authorities.
“I am very uncertain about whether that is possible.”
Last night Qatada appeared to be one step closer to a long-awaited deportation from Britain after Jordanian authorities announced they had plugged a legal loophole that was preventing his return.
Jordan’s justice minister yesterday revealed his government had changed its laws to block the use of evidence obtained by torture. The move will help Britain try to overcome a deportation ban that was imposed last month by the European Court of Human Rights. News that the last barrier to the removal of Qatada had been crossed prompted calls for his immediate deportation.
Gerard Batten, Ukip MEP and party Home Affairs spokesman, said: “We should put him on a plane without any delay and fly him back to Jordan.”
Qatada was granted asylum in Britain in 1994 after claiming he had been tortured in Jordan. In 1999 he was sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment for terror offences. He has been fighting deportation since 2001.
After the Supreme Court gave Home Secretary Theresa May the green light to send him home she told the Commons last week he posed “a serious threat to UK security”. But last month the European court ruled he would not get a fair trial, because even though Britain had secured a no-torture deal with Jordan, the evidence used in his 1999 conviction was gathered using torture.
Jordan’s legislative affairs minister, Ayman Odeh, said the change in Jordanian law “mentions very expressly that any evidence obtained from torture or a threat of torture should not be admissible before the courts”.
He added that the amendment should convince the ECHR that Qatada will get a fair trial when he returns to Jordan.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke last night said the ECHR “should be free to deal with the most serious violations of human rights, not swamped with an endless backlog of cases”.
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