Anger and frustration as terror suspect is released from prison

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DAVID Cameron said he was “fed up” that Abu Qatada was still in the country as Downing Street vowed to take steps to ensure the terror suspect does not threaten national security.

Qatada was greeted by a crowd of protesters as he arrived home in London yesterday following his release from prison after winning the latest round in his battle against deportation.

On a visit to Italy, the Prime Minister said: “I am completely fed up with the fact that this man is still at large in our country. He has no right to be there, we believe he is a threat to our country.

“We have moved heaven and earth to try to comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of our country. It is extremely frustrating and I share the British people’s frustration with the situation we find ourselves in.”

His comments were echoed by protesters who gathered outside Qatada’s house.

Jackie Chaunt, 50, who works in the area, said: “He shouldn’t be here. He was supposed to be deported to Jordan. It’s a disgrace.”

Aaron Baker, 30, who lives nearby, added: “We’re all paying for this as taxpayers. It’s ridiculous.”

Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, was released yesterday after judges approved his appeal against deportation to Jordan to stand trial.

His bail conditions include a 16-hour curfew, not using the internet, and not contacting certain people.

On Monday, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled that despite assurances from the Arab kingdom, it could not be sure that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial in his homeland. Qatada was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who travelled to Jordan earlier this year in a bid to pave the way for Qatada’s deportation, has vowed the Government will continue to fight to “get rid” of him and said the Home Office will appeal against Siac’s decision.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is due to visit London next week, when it is expected that discussions on Qatada will take place.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “I am sure there will be further discussions with the Jordanian government about the Abu Qatada case.”

The spokesman did not point to any particular action which Jordan could take to clear the path for Qatada’s extradition, but said: “They have demonstrated that they are very happy to help us.”

He added: “We are going to pursue all possible avenues to try to get Abu Qatada out of the country, but we have made very clear we intend to appeal the judgment because we think it is wrong.”

Qatada, who is said to have wide and high-level support among extremists, featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

He has battled deportation for over a decade and has so far thwarted every attempt by the Government to deport him. Jordanian government minister Nayef al-Fayez said they were also disappointed, but respected the decision and would be working with the UK Government to see what the next steps should be.

Meanwhile Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called for Ministers to travel to Jordan straight away for discussions.

She said: “I think people will be really concerned that instead of seeing Abu Qatada on a plane to Jordan we’ve actually got him out on bail and on Britain’s streets instead.... If the Government’s appeal fails at the next stage then we’ll be reliant on counter-terror powers to make sure that the public are protected.

“Those counter-terror powers have been weakened by Theresa May.”