Muslim cleric cleared by Jordan of charges for involvement in terror plot to attack tourists

Radical cleric described as "bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" was previously extradited to Jordan from UK.

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada
(photo credit: REUTERS)

AMMAN - A Jordanian court acquitted radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada on Wednesday of charges of providing spiritual and material support for a plot to attack tourists during Jordan's New Year celebrations in 2000, a judicial source said.

Jordan's state security court ruled that the charges lacked sufficient evidence, the source said.

The source said the cleric was expected to be freed as soon as today.

Qatada was extradited from Britain last year after a lengthy legal process and was acquitted in June in a separate case of charges of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. That acquittal was also based on lack of evidence.
Wednesday's session was a retrial in which the prosecution had argued the cleric was a mentor to militant cells in Jordan while he was in Britain, providing spiritual and material support to its followers during the late 1990s.

Once described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", Abu Qatada has been in and out of jail since first being arrested in 2001. He was sent back to prison in 2013  for breaching his bail conditions.