Abu Qatada denied bail to allow MI5 to focus on Olympics
From the Telegraph
Abu Qatada, the Islamist cleric, was denied bail today because of the impossible strain it would place on the police and MI5 if he absconded during the Olympics. The extremist preacher, once described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", sought again to be freed from jail while he fights deportation to his native Jordan.
But a senior immigration judge ruled that he should remain in the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London, expressing concerns that Qatada's supporters in al Qaeda could help him to escape if he were bailed.
Mr Justice Mitting said if the 51-year-old firebrand cleric absconded, the security services would either have to divert resources away from protecting the Olympics and Paralympics to find him or make locating him a lower priority. "I am not going to take that risk, and it would be wrong for me to do so," he said.
The judge observed that al Qaeda groups in North and East Africa have posted statements of support for Qatada on jihadist websites. He said: "Others who claim to champion his cause, but who are themselves sinister players in global affairs, have expressed themselves vehemently in such a manner to give rise to the concern that I have that they may lend him effective support to abscond."
Lawyers for Theresa May, the Home Secretary, accused Qatada's legal team of trying to "string out" the proceedings to put off the "inevitable" day when the fundamentalist cleric will be sent back to Jordan.
Posted on 05/28/2012 1:47 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax