AMMAN, Jordan — A radical Muslim preacher rejected terrorism charges Sunday linked to alleged plots targeting Americans and Israelis in Jordan, his lawyer said, hours after Britain deported him after a decadelong fight over his extradition.
Jordan first submitted an extradition request to British authorities for the militant cleric known as Abu Qatada in 2001, but it was blocked in British and European courts over human rights concerns. Last month, Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing those worries, paving the way for the 53-year-old preacher's deportation.
Abu Qatada arrived at Amman's civilian airport Sunday on board a British aircraft and was whisked away by antiterrorism police for questioning at a nearby courthouse.
After nearly two hours of questioning, Jordanian prosecutors charged Abu Qatada with conspiring to carry out terror attacks in Jordan twice — once in 1999 for a foiled plot against the American school in Amman and another time in 2000 for allegedly targeting Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats during new year celebrations.
Abu Qatada's lawyer, Tayseer Thiab, said his client "told military prosecutors that he is not guilty of terrorism and rejected the charges against him."
Abu Qatada arrived in Britain on a forged passport in 1993 after fleeing a Jordanian government crackdown on militants. He was granted asylum, but wore out his welcome because of his suspected militant activities, including suspected links to al-Qaeda.