Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clarke Admits Belmarsh 12 Will Also Have to Be Freed; but Terror Suspects Will Be Kept under House Arrest 'To Protect Public'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clarke Admits Belmarsh 12 Will Also Have to Be Freed; but Terror Suspects Will Be Kept under House Arrest 'To Protect Public'

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

FOREIGN terrorist suspects being held without trial at Belmarsh Prison are set to be freed in a major government climbdown.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke was announcing his decision on the fate of 12 men held under emergency antiterrorist laws.

He will accept the ruling by the Law Lords last month that the men's detention is in breach of human rights laws.

Mr Clarke was expected to tell MPs that at least some of the men would be allowed home but kept under virtual house arrest to protect the public.

Conditions for their release are likely to include 24-hour surveillance, regular reporting, electronic tagging and bans on using the internet or mobile phones.

At least one of the men may be charged and prosecuted under antiterrorism laws. Others could be charged with lesser offences.

The Home Secretary still hopes to strike a deal with some of the men's countries of origin which will allow them to be deported.

All are Islamic extremists and many are wanted men in their homelands which include Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan. None are British citizens.

One man, who is apparently wanted by his Moroccan homeland, is Muslim cleric Mohammed al Guerbouzi. He allegedly has links to the Madrid bombings. But he is not in detention: he lives with his family in north London.

Mr Clarke is also set to call for a national debate on anti-terror laws and the balance which must be struck between defending liberties and protecting the public.

The Law Lords announced their decision on the day Mr Clarke took over the job of Home Secretary last month. He told MPs on the day: "I will not be revoking the certificates or releasing the detainees, who I have reason to believe are a significant threat to our security." The detainees would remain in prison, he said, until Parliament decided "whether and how we should amend the law". …

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