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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 00:00 GMT
Terror suspect freed from UK jail
Woodhill Prison
C was being held at Woodhill Prison near Milton Keynes
A foreign terror suspect held in the UK without trial or charge since December 2001 has been freed from jail.

The man, an Egyptian known only as C, was freed without conditions from Woodhill Prison near Milton Keynes, Bucks, on Monday.

In a statement to the Commons, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said there was not enough evidence to maintain his certification as a terrorist suspect.

His release comes a day after three other detainees were given bail.

C had been held under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, introduced in December 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks on the US.

Twelve of the 17 people originally certified for detention under the Act remain in custody at Belmarsh and Woodhill high security prisons, or Broadmoor hospital, including the three granted bail in January.

C's case had been due to be reviewed at a Special Immigration Appeal Commission (Siac) hearing later this week but he was released before it could be held.

His life has been decimated
Natalia Garcia
Lawyer for C

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Clarke said C's certification under the act had been kept under constant review.

He said: "The weight of evidence in relation to C at the current time does not justify the continuance of the certificate.

"I therefore decided to revoke the certificate with immediate effect."

Home Office minister Hazel Blears later insisted C's release did not mean he was not a threat to national security.

She told BBC Two's Newsnight programme that she would not comment specifically on C's case.

But in similar cases "it could be that the networks that somebody was dealing with had been disrupted and that there's no longer that kind of threat".

"It also may well be the case that surveillance could be appropriate," she added.

Asylum

At a previous appeal hearing against his detention, Home Office lawyers claimed C was a leading member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

They said he had been in contact with prominent extremists and had assisted in fraudulent fundraising.

C, who had applied for asylum in the UK claiming he had been persecuted in Egypt, denied the allegations.

The public has no idea why yesterday he was dangerous and today he is safe
Shami Chakrabarti

His lawyer, Natalia Garcia, said news of his release had come "completely out of the blue".

She told BBC News: "In effect the home secretary has now admitted that C is no danger to anyone at all, which is what we've said from the very beginning.

"But it has taken three years and his life has been decimated in the meantime."

She added her client was delighted to be free but "perplexed and confused" over the reasoning behind his internment and sudden release.

'Draconian'

Civil liberties campaigners also questioned the logic behind C's detention and release.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: "The public has no idea why yesterday he was dangerous and today he is safe."

And Amnesty International said the case highlights the "secretive nature" of the government's "Draconian" policies.

On Monday three other suspects who had been imprisoned without trial were granted bail after Siac hearings.

The measures which allowed foreign terror suspects to be detained indefinitely without trial were ruled unlawful by the Law Lords in December.

To take their place, the home secretary has introduced "control orders" for terror suspects, which include the power to place them under house arrest.


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