Back on the streets, the men trying to readjust

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The Independent Online
THE RELEASE of foreign nationals from Belmarsh prison within days of British prisoners being freed from Guantanamo Bay has increased scrutiny of the country's anti-terror laws.

Men released from both detention centres are now attempting to rebuild their lives in Britain.

Nine British men held at Guantanamo Bay and four foreign terror suspects in Belmarsh have been freed in the past 12 months. The first to taste freedom were five Britons released by the US in March after two years' imprisonment at the naval base in Cuba.

Shafiq Rasul, 27, Asif Iqbal, 22, and Rhuhel Ahmed, 22, all from Tipton, West Midlands; Jamal al-Harith, 37, from Manchester and Tarek Dergoul, 26, from London, have returned to their communities. But 10 months on, they remain haunted by their experiences. They have filed compensation law suits in the American courts.

In the same month, a British court freed a Libyan detainee M, 37, after he had spent 16 months at Belmarsh under the Home Secretary's emergency terror legislation. The former home secretary, David Blunkett, called the decision "extraordinary".

On 23 April, the same court, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, released another foreign suspect, G, under strict house arrest.

Then, without warning or explanation, Mr Blunkett, released Detainee D from Belmarsh in September after three years' detention.

Just before Christmas, the House of Lords ruled the emergency terror powers for indefinite detention breached human rights. The Government said it would respond to that ruling at a later date. On 25 January, the remaining British men held at Guantanamo were flown home to Britain where they were arrested by anti-terrorist police and released the following day. Moazzam Begg, Richard Belmar, Feroz Abbasi and Martin Mubanga have not yet spoken about their detention and are thought to be considering a number of offers from the media to tell their stories.

In response to the House of Lords ruling, ministers said they would replace indefinite detention with control orders.

But this week the Government's own policy on terrorism began to unravel even further as another foreign suspect, Abu Rideh, a 33-year-old Palestinian, was granted bail. A day later Detainee C, an Egyptian, was released unconditionally and without explanation by the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

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