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Terrorism suspect confined to home

A British tribunal sets restrictions for release after the Jordanian averted deportation.

June 18, 2008|From Reuters

LONDON — A Jordanian who defeated a British government attempt to deport him as a "significant international terrorist" was freed from prison on bail Tuesday but confined to his home for 22 hours a day.

Omar Mahmoud Othman, known as Abu Qatada, was among the highest profile terrorism suspects in a British jail. A special tribunal dealing with foreign terrorism suspects published a seven-page document setting stringent conditions for his release.

He is forbidden to use any cellphone or computer, or connect in any way to the Internet, and may be away from home only between 10 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 3 p.m.

The document lists individuals he may not contact or receive visits from, headed by Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman Zawahiri.

Othman won a legal battle against being deported to Jordan when the Court of Appeal ruled in April that he would not get a fair trial at home.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was disappointed that he had been granted bail and planned to appeal to reverse the decision to bar his deportation.

The ruling was a setback to Britain's efforts to expel suspected Islamist militants it sees as a threat to national security, but against whom it lacks sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.

Civil rights groups have condemned the government's treatment of the men and its attempts to remove them to countries with poor human rights records.

Othman's lawyer declined to comment on the bail conditions, which also prevent him from attending a mosque and strictly limit visits to his home and meetings outside it.

Othman has denied being a member of Al Qaeda, though Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon once described him as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe."

Twice convicted in absentia in Jordan of involvement in terrorist plots, he had been jailed in Britain pending deportation since August 2005. He was previously held without charge under powers that were declared unlawful.

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