Abu Qatada has been found not guilty of terrorism offences by a court in Jordan.
A panel of civilian judges sitting at Amman’s State Security Court cleared the radical Muslim cleric of being involved in a thwarted plot aimed at the Millennium celebrations in 2000.
The ruling comes after Abu Qatada was acquitted in June of conspiring in a 1998 bombing campaign in Jordan.
Abu Qatada was deported from the UK in July 2013.
The verdict follows a long legal battle by ministers in the UK to force Abu Qatada to face trial in his home country.
The trial was conducted at Jordan’s state security court, housed in a military base in Marka, a suburb of the capital Amman.
Abu Qatada was accused of providing spiritual support through his writings to men alleged to have planned a series of atrocities aimed at Western and Israeli targets in Jordan on Millennium Eve.
Jordanian and American investigators had the cell under surveillance and launched raids on homes in Amman in the weeks leading up to New Year.
Abu Qatada has been found not guilty of terrorism offences by a court in Jordan
Prosecutors said that books by Abu Qatada were found and they accused him of supplying funds to the plotters.
He denied the allegations in a trial which was punctuated by a number of outbursts by the accused.
Although Abu Qatada will soon be free, he will not be returning to London.
The radical cleric, whose real name is Omar Othman, was granted asylum in the UK in 1994 but the security service MI5 increasingly saw him as a national security threat.
More than a decade ago Abu Qatada issued rulings justifying suicide bombings. By 2005 the Home Office said he was giving religious legitimacy to those “who wish to further the aims of extreme Islamism and to engage in terrorist attacks”.
While he was in the UK, Abu Qatada had been convicted in Jordan of conspiring in the two Jordanian plots. However, the convictions were eventually thrown out because they had been based on evidence which may have been acquired by torturing his co-defendants.
A treaty signed in 2013 by Jordan and the UK banned the use of such evidence from trials in Jordan involving British deportees.
That removed the final obstacle to deporting Abu Qatada described by British judges as a “truly dangerous individual … at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda”.
[youtube IjnhmRtVwk4 650]
Radical cleric Abu Qatada has been deported last night from the UK to Jordan to stand trial on terrorism charges.
Abu Qatada’s plane left RAF Northolt at 02:45 BST to take him to his home country, which he has not visited in 20 years.
UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May said it “marks the conclusion of efforts to remove him… and I believe this will be welcomed by the British public.”
She added: “This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country.”
Abu Qatada was first arrested over alleged terror connections in 2001 and the battle to deport him to Jordan has cost the UK more than £1.7 million ($2.5 million).
His deportation was finally able to proceed after the UK and Jordan signed a treaty agreeing that evidence obtained through torture would not be used against him.
Radical cleric Abu Qatada has been deported from the UK to Jordan to stand trial on terrorism charges
Theresa May added: “I am glad that this government’s determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for.
“I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport.”
Abu Qatada was being accompanied on the flight by six people from Jordan, comprising three security officials, a psychologist, a medical examiner and his Jordanian lawyer.
A convoy of three police vehicles left Belmarsh prison in south-east London, where the 53-year-old cleric had been held, at midnight, travelling over Tower Bridge and through the City on its way to the airfield in the west of the capital.
It appears Abu Qatada would be taken straight to court in Amman on his arrival in Jordan.
The charges he faces will be outlined and he will then be taken to prison to await the start of the trial.
The Palestinian-Jordanian, whose real name is Omar Othman, lost his appeal against deportation at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in February 2007.
But he then appealed to higher courts on the grounds that evidence extracted through torture would be used against him in Jordan, where he faces a retrial for plotting bomb attacks.
That legal battle continued until May this year, when the cleric accepted that his right to a fair trial there was protected by the new treaty between Jordan and the UK.
Abu Qatada agreed to drop his legal challenge, paving the way for his deportation.]