Terrorism suspects are ‘too dangerous to be given bail’
By Stewart Tendler, The Times, September 27, 2005
Judges are told that deportation hinges on assurances about welfare given by recipient countries
TEN terror suspects facing deportation from Britain are “dangerous men” who helped to create the atmosphere that led to the bombings in London in July, judges were told yesterday.
Counsel for Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, urging the Special Immigration Appeals Commission to turn down an appeal for bail by the men, said: “They all pose threats to the national security of the UK and its citizens.”
On the first day of the week-long hearings, Sean Wilken said: “None of the applicants has any right to be in this country. Several have absconded in the past and we say all now have the motivation to abscond. We say that when they have absconded they would resume their activity and would be a threat to the UK and its citizens. All of them are involved in creating the climate, the motivation and the opportunity that led to the events of July 2005.”
The men, who include Abu Qatada, described by a Spanish judge as “al-Qaeda’s ambassador in Europe”, were arrested last month pending deportation. Britain has struck a deal with Jordan and is negotiating with Algeria and several other countries for assurances that the men will not be ill-treated if they are sent back.
Yesterday Mr Wilken said that the Government hopes to finalise its memorandum of understanding with Algeria next month after three rounds of discussion.
He told the commission that four of the ten — Mr Qatada and those identified as A, B and K — had a history of absconding. Six — A, B, G, H, K and P — have a history of using false documents.
“We return to the Secretary of State’s contention that detention is and has been the best method of controlling risk and in the current climate it’s appropriate to detain these appellants,” Mr Wilken said.
But Ben Emmerson, QC, representing Mr Qatada and six others, told the commission that none of the men had any links to the bombings in July and had been monitored for months beforehand.
They had known since last year that the Government was planning to deport them, but none had tried to abscond.
He said appeals against the deportation would take some time and “whatever the result of the first appeal, one or other side will take it further. The issue of assurances is uncharted territory.”
If the men successfully challenged the plans they would be covered by the control orders that were in force until they were arrested last month pending their deportation.
He told the hearing in Central London that the men included some of the “Belmarsh detainees”. The men had been released and subjected to control orders putting them on a 12-hour curfew at home.
Mr Emmerson said: “Given that the range of powers included 24-hour house arrest, and having carefully reconsidered the national security case against these applicants, the Secretary of State decided that it was not necessary to impose anything beyond what amounted to a 12-hour curfew.”
Now the Home Secretary had to explain what had changed to entitle him to order the men to be detained, Mr Emmerson said.
Michael Kopelman, who works at St Thomas’ Hospital, told the commission that detainees A and H were receiving medication for depression.