Anger as four terror suspects bailed
BY SIMON FREEMAN, Times Online,October 20, 2005
The Government today suffered a setback in its drive to detain and deport foreign terror suspects after a court released four Algerian men on bail.
The four, referred to by the initials A, G, H and T, were among ten immigrants arrested during a high-profile sweep which followed the July 7 London bombings.
Five others, including the radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, had their bail applications refused by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac). The case of the tenth man, B, was adjourned.
All ten were arrested in August and were being detained at Belmarsh Prison in south-east London as arrangements were made for their deportation.
At the outset of the bail hearings last month, Home Office lawyers claimed that they were in Britain illegally and were considered dangerous.
Although they had not been involved in the July attack, their presence was said to have contributed to the atmosphere in which it took place.
Sean Wilken, acting as counsel for Charles Clarke, said: « They all pose threats to the national security of the UK and its citizens. » He warned that they would resume their activities if freed.
Lawyers acting for the men argued that their appeals against deportation were likely to be lengthy, lasting between two and three years, and that there was no new evidence to suggest that the men posed a danger to the public.
All but one had been living under a restrictive control order prior to July 7. Their lawyers argued that the bombings had not made them more dangerous.
Some are suffering from mental illness as a result of their detention, it was argued.
The four men bailed today, all of whom are Algerian, must abide by tight conditions which effectively amount to house arrest. Nevertheless, the Government described their release as a « disappointment ».
Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, said: « It remains our view that these individuals represent a real risk to the national security of this country and should continue to be detained.
« All these individuals are detained in accordance with the Home Secretary’s powers to deport individuals whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security and we remain committed to pursuing their deportation. »
Mr Justice Ouseley, the Siac chairman, said: « Siac does not consider that it should regard the incidents of July as evidence of a greater national security risk posed by these applicants than before. »
He said Siac also specifically rejected the Home Secretary’s suggestion that there should be a presumption against bail.
He said the key considerations in granting bail were whether the men would abscond and how they would react to the impending signing of a memorandum of understanding between Britain and Algeria that would allow for their deportation.
Under the terms of the bail arrangements, H will be allowed two hours outside in daylight hours at precise times which are still to be fixed. He is married to a British citizen, has been on suicide watch in Belmarsh prison, in south east London, and may be suffering from post-traumatic stress, the court heard.
A has five children and has also been on suicide watch, the court heard.
G tried to hang himself last month because « the spirits were telling him to commit suicide ». Siac said he would be given access to his garden while on bail
T, who is alleged to have received terrorist training in Afghanistan, was the only one of the ten not to have been previously detained under the Government’s controversial internment powers or a control order.