Abu Qatada UK deportation halted by last ditch appeal

Mr Qatada was detained in custody following his arrest by UK Border Agency officials
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A Jordanian cleric once described as Osama bin Laden's "right-hand man in Europe" has lodged a last-minute appeal against his deportation from Britain, a European court source said on Wednesday, potentially thwarting British hopes of a swift eviction. (Getty Images)
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Britain dismissed the move by radical preacher Abu Qatada as a delaying tactic, saying it would oppose the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, in the latest chapter in a long-running saga over his deportation which has embarrassed London. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Britain rearrested Qatada on Tuesday and said it would resume a bid to send him to Jordan to face terrorism charges after gaining assurances from Amman that he would receive a fair trial. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Qatada's appeal arrived at the European court by fax just one hour before a Tuesday midnight deadline and was being treated as a priority, a source at the Strasbourg court said. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Britain, which is aiming to evict Qatada by April 30, could not deport Qatada while the appeal to the court's Grand Chamber was being considered, the source added.\n\nThe British government has been trying to get rid of Qatada for more than a decade in the face of numerous legal challenges. (AFP/Getty Images)
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The government has been resisting pressure from politicians to defy the European court and deport the cleric before London hosts the Olympic Games in July and August.\n\nQatada had been under virtual house arrest at his family home in London since February, when he was freed from a British prison after a court said his detention without trial was unlawful. (AFP/Getty Images)