Jacqui blasts court over fresh risk to public safety

Written by Janet

Four terror suspects described as ‘highly dangerous’ were freed by immigration judges yesterday despite fears that they will go on the run.  This brought an angry reaction from Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.  The men, three Algerians and a Jordanian, are facing deportation as a threat to national security. They were arrested on Thursday night amid concern that they will try to flee.

But judges on the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ordered that they should be freed on bail. A fifth man arrested at the same time must stay behind bars.  One suspect is 42-year-old Algerian who was arrested on terrorism and fraud charges in 1997.

The Home Secretary ordered the arrest of the four men following last week’s House of Lords ruling over the radical preacher Abu Qatada and another man.

The Law Lords ruled that it was legal to deport Qatada to Jordan and the second man to Algeria in a judgment that represented their final appeal in Britain.  It set a precedent for deporting other people to those countries, which have promised to protect the human rights of anyone returned there.

Ms. Smith argued that as a result, the terror suspects might try to abscond rather than wait for the results of their own appeals.   Mr Justice Mitting said the Government had failed to prove they were at risk of disappearing.

Ms. Smith said her top priority was to protect the public and given a recent ruling by the House of Lords which was favourable to the Government’s efforts to deport people from the UK, there is a risk that these individuals will abscond if they are not detained.

Although the men have been freed, they have to abide by strict bail conditions. They must wear electronic security tags, and cannot use any communications equipment or meet anyone without prior Home Office approval.

Despite their hostility to Britain, the men are appealing against the Government’s attempt to deport them back to their home countries where they claim they face torture and persecution. Their lawyers say assurances from Algeria and Jordan cannot be trusted.

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