Algerian detainee deported to France for alleged terror links

Algerian detainee deported to France for alleged terror links

· Man with partner and child in UK told to leave
· MK denies connections with ‘extreme networks’

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, September 16, 2006

A man under deportation orders as a national security risk spent his first night penniless, sleeping on a Paris street in the pouring rain, his lawyers said yesterday.

The 33-year-old man, of dual French-Algerian nationality, who can only be identified as MK, was formally deported on Thursday, the Home Office said yesterday. But he decided to leave without being forcibly expelled.

« Our priority is to protect public safety and national security. Where a foreign national living in the UK is a threat to this country we will seek to deport them, » insisted a spokeswoman. The government was grateful to the French authorities for their cooperation in « facilitating the deportation of this individual », she added.

Though MK is regarded in Britain as a threat to national security, there was no indication yesterday that France took a similar view. After years in and out of the courts, and jail, MK decided to leave Britain voluntarily, according to his lawyers, Birnberg Peirce. He boarded the Eurostar at Waterloo station in London. He was not under arrest and was left to his own devices, with no money, they said.

British officials said yesterday that MK, who first came to MI5’s attention in 2001, had links to « extreme networks ». The special immigration appeals commission (Siac) was told last year that he had links with Abu Doha, an Algerian said by intelligence officials to have been Osama bin Laden’s chief recruiter in Europe.

Mr Doha was arrested in 2001 trying to leave Heathrow airport for Saudi Arabia on a fake passport. He remains in British custody and is wanted by the US for an alleged plot to blow up Los Angeles airport during the 2000 millennium celebrations.

Two other alleged associates of Mr Doha were deported from Britain to Algeria in June. His network is alleged to have been linked to Finsbury Park mosque in north London and the « ricin » plot, though MK was not charged in connection with it. MK denied having anything more than a « nodding acquaintance » with Mr Doha.

MK was detained in 2004 but released on bail by Siac in May last year, pending his deportation.

« There is no known threat, because he is a French citizen, of any onward removal to Algeria from France or of arrest and detention in France, » said Siac’s chairman, Mr Justice Ouseley.

British officials said yesterday that there was nothing to stop the French authorities from deporting MK to Algeria.

MK had lived in Britain for 10 years and had a partner, a British citizen, and daughter here.