Page last updated at 10:01 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 11:01 UK

No charges after anti-terror raid

Police outside an internet cafe in Manchester
The police conducted a series of raids

All of 12 men arrested over a suspected bomb plot in the UK have now been released without charge by police.

Eleven of the men have been transferred to the custody of the UK Borders Agency and now face possible deportation.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to press charges or hold them any longer.

The Muslim Council of Britain said the government behaved "very dishonourably" over the treatment of the men should admit it had made a mistake.

Of the 12 men arrested in the raids, 11 were Pakistani nationals, 10 held student visas and one was from Britain.

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The lawyer, Mohammed Ayub, said in a statement: "After 13 days in custody, during which no evidence of any wrongdoing was disclosed, they [his three clients] have now been released without charge.

"Our clients have no criminal history, they were here lawfully on student visas and all were pursuing their studies and working part-time. Our clients are neither extremists nor terrorists."

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the government had been "dishonourable" over the way it had dealt with the men.

Mr Bunglawala told the BBC that when the arrests "took place in very dramatic circumstances of students being arrested at university and thrown to the floor" the public had been assured the men posed a serious threat.

He said it was unacceptable for the government to make these sorts of prejudicial remarks from the outset, find insufficient evidence to bring charges, and then deport the men anyway.

'Premature remarks'

"Politics should not be interfering with what is primarily a legal process," he said.

"What we don't want is people becoming cynical as a result of politician's premature remarks and thinking: 'well, that's what they said last time'."

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said: "Counter-terrorism officers have told me they still think it was the right thing to do to move to arrest them."

But, he added: "I think there will be a sense of a need to learn some lessons from this is in terms of public presentation."

The raids had to be brought forward following a blunder by the UK's most senior counter-terrorism officer.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick quit his post a day after the operation - after he had accidentally revealed operational details to photographers from a document he was carrying.

However, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told MPs on Monday the error had not damaged the operation and the only impact had been that the raids had been brought forward "by a matter of hours".



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