Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Home Office could use £217,000 of Abu Qatada's assets to help pay cost of keeping him in Britain

  • Home Secretary Theresa May reveals move to raid the hate preacher's cash
  • Legal aid bill alone is already £500,000
  • Qatada continues to fight deportation to Jordan to face terrorism charges

  • The Government could use frozen bank accounts and seized assets belonging to hate preacher Abu Qatada worth £217,000 to help cover the cost of keeping him in the country.

    Home Secretary Theresa May told the Home Affairs Select Committee that officials will look at raiding Qatada's cash and assets to pay for his huge legal bills.

    The cost of the terror suspect's legal aid has already reached more than £500,000.
    Qatada, 52, was recently moved into a £450,000 north London home which is being rented out by the British taxpayer for £1,400 a month.

    The Al-Qaeda fanatic continues to battle deportation to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

    The Special Immigration Appeals Commission last month upheld Qatada’s latest appeal because of concerns about human rights in the country.

    The Government is appealing against the decision but Qatada remains in the UK on bail conditions including a 16-hour curfew, wearing an electronic tag, not using the internet and not contacting certain people.

    Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: 'Bank accounts that have been frozen and seized assets are worth £217,000.

    'Is there anything we can do to defray against what has been seized?'

    Ms May replied: 'There has been an attempt to defray against what has been seized. This is something we have asked officials to look at.'

    Last week, the Prime Minister and the King of Jordan met and discussed finding a way to get Qatada out of the country.

    Mr Vaz also asked if King Abdullah was committed to 'take back Abu Qatada'.

    The Home Secretary said: 'The support from Jordan continues to be as good as it has been throughout the process. They’ve been very supportive.

    'From the Jordanian point of view they’ve made changes in the constitution to the use of evidence obtained through torture.

    'They want to show that’s had an impact.'

    Referring to MI5 papers found in Libya revealing that Qatada had issued a fatwa - an Islamic ruling that can include a death sentence - against UK and US citizens, Mr Vaz asked if he could be prosecuted in this country.

    Ms May said she was satisfied that it was not currently possible.

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