BEIRUT, Lebanon, AP -Lebanese police have arrested Omar Bakri, the Islamic cleric who is being investigated in Britain for his remarks on the London bombings, security officials said Thursday.
The officials refused to say when and where Bakri was arrested. But the local Future TV channel reported that he was arrested Thursday as he left after giving an interview at its building in western Beirut.
The station said Bakri was told that the General Security department wants to question him about "information regarding his entry into Lebanon."
In London, the Foreign Office said there was no British connection to the detention and no warrant for Bakri”s arrest.
Britain”s Home Office declined to say whether it had lodged an extradition request. However, such a move was considered unlikely as the government had been considering how to deport or bar Bakri from Britain.
Bakri is regarded as an Islamic extremist in Britain, where he has lived for 20 years. He left on Saturday and flew to Lebanon to see his mother.
"Enjoy your holiday — make it a long one," British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Tuesday when asked about Bakri at a news conference.
Bakri had told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he plans to return after six weeks, but he would not return if the government told him he would not be welcome.
"Good," Prescott said when told that.
The cleric founded the now-disbanded radical Islamic group al-Muhajiroun, which came under scrutiny in Britain, particularly after some of its members praised the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Bakri caught public attention recently when he said he would not inform the police if he knew that Muslims were planning attacks such as the July suicide bombings in London that killed 56 people, including four attackers. He claimed that Islam prohibited him from reporting Muslims to the British police.
A spokesman for Britain”s Crown Prosecution Service said Thursday that prosecutors were looking at Bakri”s recent remarks to assess whether he could be charged with solicitation of murder or incitement to withhold information known to be of use to police. A spokesman dismissed reports that charges of treason were being considered.
Bakri is from Syria, but his wife”s family is Lebanese and he holds both Syrian and Lebanese nationalities.