London: British taxpayers may have to cough up a whopping six million pounds this year to pay the bills of radical cleric Abu Qatada, who is fighting deportation to Jordan on terror charges.
Taxpayers are set to pay six million pounds this year to pay the bills of Qatada. It will cost five million pounds this year to foot the security bill for the 52-year-old who has been closely monitored since his release from jail last November, the Sun reported today.
The 100,000 pounds-a-week operation includes a team of 60 officers from Scotland Yard, MI5 and a private security firm.
Keeping him in jail for years cost the taxpayer 850,000 pounds while the security bill since his release has topped one million pounds, the report said.
Housing and benefits costs have so far amounted to 250,000 pounds.
Figures from the Legal Services Commission say it has spent a total of 581,537 pounds on legal aid for Qatada. Over a period of just 13 days last month the figure rocketed by 66,000 pounds from 515,000 pounds 5,000 pounds a day.
Experts expect that as the battle over Qatada`s deportation to Jordan hots up, his legal aid costs could exceed 400,000 pounds over the next year.
And the British Government`s legal bill could hit 600,000 pounds as it brings in top lawyers to try to get him booted out.
Once described by a judge as "Osama Bin Laden`s right- hand man in Europe," Qatada is fighting deportation to his homeland on terror charges.
Home Secretary Theresa May had hoped to put him on a plane home, but she lost a legal battle last November after he appealed, claiming prosecutors would use evidence gained through torture.
Qatada has been repeatedly jailed since 2002 on terror charges.
He faces a re-trial in Jordan for allegedly conspiring to cause explosions targeting Western and Israeli targets before the year 2000. He was found guilty of terrorism offences in his absence.
Last month, a senior judge ruled Jordan had not proved that the retrial of Qatada would be free of evidence obtained by torture.
A TaxPayers` Alliance spokesman said of the six million pound bill: "This sum is incredible given the number of taxpayers who would have to contribute to support one man who shouldn`t even be in the country anyway."
"It`s time this vile hate preacher faced justice," he said.
The huge legal costs were revealed following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the Sun said.