Qatada's detention time 'unlawful'
Radical preacher Abu Qatada's detention should be ruled "unlawful", the High Court has heard.
His QC told two judges in London: "Our submission is that the detention has already gone on for so long as to be disproportionate and unlawful."
Qatada, who is fighting deportation to Jordan, is asking the court for permission to challenge his ongoing detention by Home Secretary Theresa May.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled two months ago his detention was lawful. Leaving him free during heightened security for the 2012 Olympics would be "exceptionally problematic", a judge said.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Qatada, who is referred to in legal documents as Omar Mahmoud Othman, told Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Silber that a seven-year period pending deportation "is so long as to make further detention unwarranted".
He pointed out that deportation was not "imminent", adding: "That is to say it cannot be said that deportation can reasonably be expected to take place within a matter of months."
Mr Fitzgerald told the court: "There comes a point where detention is just too long, and this is the longest period of administrative detention, so far as we know, in modern English history."
He said: "It cannot be right, when we are already at seven years - and when there is an inevitable likelihood this is going to go on for at least another year - for there to be continued detention of Mr Othman."
In this latest legal action Qatada is seeking to be freed from custody while he fights deportation. His last appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over his removal failed on May 9.
Qatada, who is said to have wide and high-level support among Islamic extremists, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and faces a retrial in his home country. Mrs May restarted deportation proceedings in April after she received assurances from the Jordanian authorities that evidence obtained by torture would not be used against him.