A military court on Sunday rejected a bail application by Islamist cleric Abu Qatada, who faces terror charges in Jordan following his deportation from Britain, his lawyer said.
“The state security court today refused to release Abu Qatada on bail,” Taysir Diab told AFP.
“The court gave no reason for its decision. I will meet with Abu Qatada on Wednesday to look into the issue and decide future steps,” Diab said, without elaborating.
Abu Qatada, 53, was charged on July 7 with “conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts”, just hours after his deportation from Britain. He pleaded not guilty.
The next day, Diab asked the military tribunal to release the Palestinian-born preacher on bail.
Jordanian law gives him the right to a retrial with him present in the dock, but the date for such a trial has not yet been set.
He is currently in the Muwaqqar prison, a maximum security facility that houses more than 1,000 inmates, most of them Islamists convicted of terror offences.
“The court’s decision was expected, despite government promises to release him on bail,” Jordanian Salafist leader Mohammad Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, told AFP.
“At the same time, we still have hopes that he will be released soon to join his family.”
Abu Qatada 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 labour.
In 2000, he was sentenced in his absence to 15 years for plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.
“I visited Abu Qatada in prison today. He is in good condition. He receives good treatment,” one of his brothers, who asked not to be identified by name, told AFP on Sunday.
“I told him our mother is asking when he is going to leave prison. He said ‘I am not in a rush… things are fine and God willing all issues will be resolved soon’,” he said, refusing to comment on the court’s decision.
Britain’s expulsion of Abu Qatada came after Amman and London last month ratified a treaty guaranteeing that evidence obtained by torture would not be used in his retrial.
His wife and five children are planning to move to Amman from London, a family friend has told AFP.
Abu Qatada was born Omar Mahmud Mohammed Otman in Bethlehem in the now Israeli-occupied West Bank, which was in Jordan at the time of his birth.
Videotapes of his sermons were allegedly found in the Hamburg flat of 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta.
Top Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon once branded Abu Qatada Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, although he denies ever having met the late Al-Qaeda leader.