Jordan lawyer asks court to release Abu Qatada on bail

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The lawyer of Islamist cleric Abu Qatada, who pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in Jordan following his deportation from Britain, said he applied on Monday for his client's release on bail.

“I applied today (Monday) to the state security court to release Abu Qatada on bail,” Taysir Diab told AFP.

“The court said it will examine my request and decide after 48 hours,” he said without elaborating.

Jordanian military prosecutors charged Abu Qatada on Sunday with “conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts,” just hours after his deportation from Britain.

He pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody for 15 days in the Muwaqqar prison, a maximum security facility built in 2007 that houses 1,100 inmates, most of them Islamists convicted of terrorism offences.

No date has yet been set for trial.

Abu Qatada, 53, was condemned to death in absentia in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks, including on the American school in Amman, but the sentence was immediately commuted to life imprisonment with hard labor.

In 2000, he was sentenced in his absence to 15 years for plotting to carry out terror attacks on tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.

Jordanian law gives him the right to a retrial with him present in the dock.

Britain's expulsion of the Palestinian-born preacher ended a decade-long legal battle after Amman and London last month ratified a Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, guaranteeing that evidence obtained by torture would not be used in his retrial.

Omar Mahmud Mohammed Otman was born in Bethlehem in the now Israeli-occupied West Bank, which was part of Jordan at the time of his birth.

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