Judge tells Blunkett to relax restrictions on terror suspect

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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was ordered by a judge yesterday to lift restrictions on the rights of access and movement of a foreign terror suspect held in prison and under house arrest for nearly three years without charge.

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was ordered by a judge yesterday to lift restrictions on the rights of access and movement of a foreign terror suspect held in prison and under house arrest for nearly three years without charge.

The Algerian national, known only as G, was released from Belmarsh prison in April after a court accepted there were serious concerns about his mental and physical health.

Since then, he has been forced to live in a small one-bedroom housing association flat in London with his wife and young daughter. He suffers from polio and requires crutches to walk more than a few steps. Under the terms of G's house arrest, he is denied visitors and all contact with the outside world.

Yesterday, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, sitting in central London, ruled that the conditions of G's confinement should be relaxed, lifting the blanket ban on visitors and the restriction barring him from leaving his flat.

The ruling came a day after a team of doctors produced evidence showing that G - and seven other terror suspects being held without trial - were suffering from serious psychiatric illnesses.

Mr Justice Collins, who chaired yesterday's panel, said the Home Office should know that the "bail conditions were not written in stone" and he could see no reason for imposing "blanket bans".

The judge said that G was clearly "scared stiff" of being returned to Belmarsh, and that he had so far complied with all his bail conditions.

G was arrested shortly after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks, under the terms of the hastily drafted Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act. He has never been informed of the evidence against him, only that he is accused of being connected with terrorist groups.

Lawyers for the Home Office resisted G's application to be allowed to use his garden and receive visits from his French wife's immediate family.

Ian Burnett, for the Government, said there were still serious concerns about the risk that G posed to security and he maintained there were insufficient specially trained anti-terrorist officers to monitor G's visitors and movements outside the flat 24 hours a day.

G's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, told the tribunal that her client, who wears an electronic monitoring tag on his leg, had been so anxious to comply with the existing bail conditions that he had refused access to a Home Office official who failed to prove her identity.

Ms Peirce said there was strong medical evidence to show that G's mental and physical health would improve if he was allowed to exercise in his garden for limited periods during the day. She said that even category A prisoners in solitary confinement at Belmarsh were permitted visitors and daily outside exercise.

Ms Peirce continued that like all detainees who had been arrested and placed in indefinite detention, G had never had a chance to prove that he presented no threat to security.