Sky News : Terror Suspects Handed To UK Borders Agency

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Terror Suspects Handed To UK Borders Agency

April 21, 2009

Nine men arrested under the Terrorism Act over an alleged Easter bomb plot have been released into the custody of the UK Borders Agency.

Police said two men remain in custody following the high-profile raids in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, and Lancashire on April 8.

A total of 12 men - 11 Pakistani nationals and one Afghan - were held in the operation on suspicion of planning attacks in the North West.

Last week, an 18-year-old was transferred into the custody of the UK Borders Agency.

Now, the North West Counter Terrorism Unit has confirmed that nine more - aged between 22 and 38 - have been handed over to the agency in preparation for deportation.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are seeking to remove these individuals on grounds of national security.

"The Government's highest priority is to protect public safety.

"Where a foreign national poses a threat to this country, we will seek to exclude or to deport, where this is appropriate."

But Sky News' home affairs correspondent Mark White said their release will raise a number of questions.

"It's painfully clear from the Home Office statement that the Government still considers these 10 individuals a direct threat to national security," he said.

"But the question will be asked, if that's the case why have these individuals not been charged and the case put before the courts in this country.

"It does seem that police have not been able to gather enough evidence to mount a successful prosecution in the UK, so the next best option was to deport them to their countries of origin."

Lawyers for three of the men insist their clients are innocent and plan to challenge the deportation efforts.

The solicitors based in Bradford said: "Their arrest and detention has been a very serious breach of their human rights."

The raids were brought forward because of a gaffe by Britain's top counter-terrorist officer.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick resigned after the security breach when he was photographed carrying a secret document containing details of the operation into 10 Downing Street.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "Officers are continuing to review a large amount of information gathered as part of this investigation.

"Investigations of this nature are extremely complex. We remain grateful to the support and co-operation of the communities affected."

He said searches are continuing at an address at Galsworthy Avenue, in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.