The North African branch of al-Qaeda has said it will free a British hostage, in exchange for the release of the radical preacher Abu Qatada who is under virtual house arrest in London.
The hostage, Stephen Malcolm, is thought to be one of nine Europeans captured in Mali and Niger since September 2010.
Abu Qatada is the subject of a long and complex legal procedure, through which the UK government is trying to deport him to his native Jordan.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled earlier this year that he would not get a fair trial there.
Al-Qaeda’s statement on the hostage release warned Britain not to send Abu Qatada back to Jordan.
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