Radical cleric Abu Qatada released from jail

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LONDON — A radical Islamist cleric described by prosecutors as a key al-Qaida operative in Europe was jeered by protesters today after he was freed from prison following a court ruling that he cannot be deported to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

Britain’s government has attempted since 2001 to remove Abu Qatada, who was convicted in his absence in Jordan over terror plots in 1999 and 2000, but has been repeatedly thwarted by European and British courts.

Judge John Mitting said he was not convinced the cleric would receive a fair trial, despite the government’s insistence that it has won assurances from Jordan over how Abu Qatada’s case would be handled — including from Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

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