9/11 FIASCO; Nine Held in Britain Won't Face Charges

The Mirror (London, England), July 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

9/11 FIASCO; Nine Held in Britain Won't Face Charges


Byline: GARY JONES and ROSA PRINCE

NO charges will be brought against nine terrorist suspects who were held in a top-security British jail.

The nine men, all from countries outside the European Union, were arrested under tough anti-terrorism laws introduced after the September 11 attacks in America.

They are free to leave Britain if they can find a country willing to take them. Two have already gone, but the others fear torture or imprisonment if they return to their home countries.

Civil rights campaigners are furious that the nine were locked up at Belmarsh prison in South-East London for seven months without charges being brought.

John Wadham, director of civil rights group Liberty, said last night: "There is something fundamentally wrong in detaining people indefinitely, where you don't give the details of the accusations and there is virtually no possibility of establishing their innocence."

The Daily Mirror reported yesterday how 200 days after the first al-Qaeda suspects were flown shackled and hooded to Camp X-Ray in Cuba, not one has been charged with any offence.

No evidence has been found against any of the 564 men who include seven Britons.

Now lawyers for the nine at Belmarsh say Home Secretary David Blunkett has admitted the evidence against them may be too weak to secure a criminal conviction.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the nine, whose identities have not been revealed, are free to leave the country at any time.

She added: "We would want to deport them but are prevented from doing so because of the European Convention on Human Rights."

The Home Office claims criminal proceedings cannot be brought against the nine because evidence obtained by the Security Services would be ruled inadmissible in court.

The Home Office confirmed that the detention of the nine was being dealt with as an immigration issue.

The spokeswoman said: "These detention measures are for when criminal prosecution is not an option. The ultimate aim is to remove these people

"Our responsibility is to ensure public safety and national security. …

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