Radical Muslim Abu Qatada arrested in Britain

LONDON (AP) - A British judge ruled on Saturday that radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada must remain in custody following his arrest for allegedly breaching his bail conditions.

The cleric, who was described in the past as a key Al-Qaeda operative in Europe, was arrested in London on Friday following a series of raids by counter terrorism police. The arrest came days ahead of the government's latest court bid to extradite him to Jordan.

The Judicial Office said that judge Stephen Irwin refused on Saturday to grant the preacher bail. Abu Qatada was ordered to return to Belmarsh prison.

Britain has since 2001 repeated tried to remove the 52-year-old cleric, who was convicted in his absence in Jordan over terror plots in 1999 and 2000.

The preacher has fought lengthy legal battles against his deportation for the past decade on human rights grounds.

European and British courts have ruled that there is a risk that testimony against him in Jordan may have been obtained through torture, despite assurances from Jordan that the kingdom's constitution would guarantee a fair trial.

He was released from custody and granted bail in November after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which handles major terrorism and deportation cases, upheld his appeal and allowed him to stay in Britain.

The government is due to challenge that decision at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

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