UK

Abu Qatada 'A Proud And Dignified Man Who Wants To Spend Time With His Family' Court Hears

20/05/2013 12:04 BST | Updated 20/07/2013 10:12 BST

Radical cleric Abu Qatada is a "proud and dignified man" who has been held in custody for too long, an immigration tribunal has heard.

The terror suspect was denied bail at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission today.

Requesting his release from custody at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), Qatada's lawyer Daniel Friedman QC said his client "has been deprived of his liberty more than any other non-convicted person in British history".

abu qatada

Abu Qatada has said he will go to Jordan voluntarily if a new treaty is agreed

Earlier this month, it emerged the controversial preacher is willing to return to the Middle East when a treaty between the UK and Jordan is ratified by both countries.

The agreement, unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May last month, aims to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the terror suspect at a retrial.

Discussing Qatada's public image, Mr Friedman said: "He is a proud and dignified man who looks at his fate in religious terms.

"He has been taken from his family on several occasions over the years into high risk security category-A units.

"He has been deprived of his liberty more than any other non-convicted person in British history."

He added: "Against this background, he wants to spend time with his family to prepare to leave the country in a manner that safeguards the dignity and security of all involved."

Qatada allegedly breached bail conditions which prevent him from turning mobile phones and possessing other communication devices at his taxpayer-funded home in London.

Mr Friedman said Qatada accepts that six mobile phones belonging to his wife and his children could have been on but doubts they were on.

He added: "He didn't use them and didn't want to use them."

The Government has been trying to deport Qatada to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for around eight years.

Mr Friedman went on: "His notoriety is substantially based on statements he made in the mid to late 1990s."

The barrister said that there was a risk that Qatada would be subject to rendition if taken outside the UK.

Mr Friedman said Qatada's home was subject to frequent unannounced searches by police and the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

In addition, Mr Friedman said demonstrations outside the family home by the English Defence League (EDL) had frightened the family and left them panicked and tired.

This may explain why they failed to take care with the mobile devices in the home, Mr Friedman added.