Radical cleric Abu Qatada, once dubbed Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, has been arrested in London for allegedly breaching his bail conditions, officials and media said Saturday.
The arrest by the UK Border Agency came just days ahead of the British government’s latest bid to try to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted in absentia of involvement in terror attacks in 1998.
Lawyers for Home Secretary Theresa May will on Monday challenge a November ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) that Abu Qatada could not deported over fears that evidence obtained through torture could be used against him.
The cleric was released on bail following the ruling, causing huge frustration in London, where successive governments have been trying to send him back to Jordan for a decade.
“The UK Border Agency arrested a 52-year-old man from north London for alleged breaches of his bail conditions imposed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission,” a spokesman for the Home Office interior ministry said.
He added that the breach will be considered by the commission at the earliest opportunity.
The Home Office did not name the man in line with official policy, but The Sun newspaper published photographs of Abu Qatada being led away by officials on Friday.
It also reported that the Islamist cleric’s London home had been raided by police on Thursday. Police confirmed they had carried out a number of searches of addresses in the capital.
Under the terms of his release on bail last year, Abu Qatada was placed under a curfew and only allowed to leave his home between 8:00am and 4:00pm. He also had to wear an electronic tag, and restrictions were placed on who he could meet.