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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 19:50 GMT
Terror suspect bids to leave UK
Belmarsh
The man was held in Belmarsh prison for more than three years
An Algerian man who was held at Belmarsh prison as a suspected terrorist has begun negotiations to return voluntarily to his home country.

The man, 39, who is only known as 'A', said he and five other Algerians were being "mentally tortured" in the UK.

He was jailed without charge for more than three years under internment laws and later released on a control order.

He told the Press Association he was prepared to risk persecution in Algeria because he had no freedom in Britain.

"If I'm not going to have my freedom in this country then I have to go back. Even if there is a risk, I have to take that risk," he said.

He's saying 'I've got a gun to my head - If I stay here, I am driving my family into despair'
Gareth Peirce

His solicitor, Gareth Peirce, told the BBC he was willing to sacrifice his safety for the sake of his family.

She said: "He's saying 'I've got a gun to my head - If I stay here, I am driving my family into despair. I am prepared to go if I have to... and face torture or death and leave my wife and my children here so that they have a life.'"

Ms Peirce said the Algerian believed his family "have no life" while he remains in Britain.

After his initial release from Belmarsh, the father-of-five was re-arrested in August last year pending deportation but in October he was freed on strict bail conditions requiring him to stay indoors for 22 hours a day.

The Home Office said it would not talk about individual cases, but a spokesman confirmed that anyone on a deportation order was free to return to their own country at any time.

Extradition agreement

Following the attacks on New York 11 September 2001, the government passed the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act which gave it the power to detain foreign terror suspects without trial.

The Algerian was one of 17 foreign nationals who were held, but he could not be deported because Britain had no extradition agreement with Algeria.

He was eventually released when the government accepted an amendment to their Act which outlawed the detentions.

Ministers are now in talks with Algeria to sign a "memorandum of understanding" whereby the country would guarantee any deportees would not be tortured or mistreated.

If this is signed, it is understood that the Algerian along with several of the other ex-detainees would be deported.




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