Foreign 'terror' detainees may be released today

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The Independent Online

Some of the 10 foreign terror suspects held under the Government's controversial emergency legislation could be freed today at a court hearing.

Some of the 10 foreign terror suspects held under the Government's controversial emergency legislation could be freed today at a court hearing.

The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, agreed to the detainees' release last month but they remained in detention until the conditions of their bail had been agreed. However,to the anger of their lawyers,the Government has failed to finalise the arrangements for their reunion with their families.

Mr Justice Ouseley, the senior judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, will today ask for an explanation for the delay, having twice written to lawyers asking the Government to set the men's bail terms. He has the power to free the men immediately.

Gareth Peirce, solicitor for the detained men, says that her attempts to agree terms with the Home Office had not received a "substantive" response. Treasury solicitors say they have been unable to obtain instructions from their client, the Home Secretary.

Ms Peirce said: "I have never seen such an extraordinary, ill-prepared, ill-thought-through and cack-handed shambles. How could anyone be convinced that those responsible know what they are doing or that their judgement is worth relying on?"

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "Those who think that control orders may be remedied by judicial involvement should note the Home Office's attitude to Mr Justice Ouseley's instructions." Mr Justice Ouseley has written twice to lawyers instructed by Mr Clarke to request that the Government sets the terms of the release. The intervention follows a ruling by the House of Lords last year that indefinite detention without trial is unlawful. In January, lawyers for the Home Secretary indicated that he would not oppose applications to release the men on bail. But, five weeks later, all 10 men still remain in custody at Belmarsh and Woodhill prisons and Broadmoor Hospital.

Today's court hearings concern detainee A, who has a wife and five children; Abu Rideh, who is in Broadmoor Hospital; detainee P, a double amputee with no arms and of no fixed address, and detainee Q, who is currently serving a sentence for fraud.