London, May 9 : A radical Muslim preacher regarded as Osama bin Laden's "spiritual ambassador in Europe" and having close ties with al-Qaeda was granted bail by a British immigration appeals commission on Thursday.
Abu Qatada, who was jailed in 2002 was accused of playing a key role in raising money for extremist groups and providing spiritual advice to militants planning terror attacks, will be in custody until arrangements for his release are completed.
Qatada (48) won his legal fight against deportation to Jordan last month and will be freed from prison under strict bail conditions, amounting to 22-hour house arrest, despite being deemed a threat to the national security.
The cleric applied to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) for bail on the ground that it was inhumane to detain him indefinitely if there was no prospect of his being deported, The Times reported.
The order by Justice Mitting to release him is the latest in a series of judicial decisions that undermine the UK Government's stance on terrorism.
In 2007, the courts have in effect rewritten sections of terrorism legislation and ruled that financial sanctions on terrorist suspects were absurd and unlawful.
The earlier judgment on Qatada's deportation wrecked the policy of drawing up "memoranda of understanding" for the return of suspects to Middle East countries with poor human rights records.
British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that she was "extremely disappointed" that the courts had ruled Abu Qatada should be freed.
Qatada arrived in Britain in 1993 on a forged United Arab Emirates passport, and claimed asylum on the ground that he would be tortured if he returned to Jordan.
British Immigration authorities granted him temporary leave to remain as a refugee in 1994, but the Jordanian courts sentenced him to life imprisonment in 1998.
In February 2001 180,000 pounds in various currencies was seized from his home in an anti-terrorist branch raid.
Qatada in October 2001 told his supporters that he had received a special message from Afghanistan and the time had come to declare holy war.
Police in Germany found cassette recordings of his sermons in a flat used by Mohammed Atta, leader of the September 11 attacks.