Nine Pakistanis released without charge, to face deportation

April 22nd, 2009 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, April 22 (IANS) Nine Pakistani men, whose arrest over an alleged terrorist bomb plot in northwest England led to a row between Britain and Pakistan, have been released without charge.

They were among 12 men who were arrested by British police April 8 after raids on houses in the cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe.

Two of the men are still being questioned while a third had been handed over to the custody of the UK Border Agency three days after the arrests, made over what Prime Minister Gordon Brown had described as a “very big terrorist plot”.

A home ministry spokesman said Tuesday night nine men, most of whom came to Britain on student visas, are to be deported after being released without charges.

“We are seeking to remove these individuals on grounds of national security. Where a foreign national poses a threat to this country we will seek to exclude or to deport, where this is appropriate,” the spokesman said.

However, Mohammed Ayub, a lawyer representing three of the men, said the government should “revoke” the deportation order and place an independent enquiry “so lessons can be learned as to how this investigation got it so terribly wrong.”

Plans to raid the homes of the suspects were hastily brought forward after a newspaper photographed Britain’s senior-most counter-terrorism official, Bob Quick of London Metropolitan Police, openly carrying a file with details of the covert operation.

Quick resigned a day after the raids, but Prime Minister Brown said: “We are dealing with a very big terrorist plot. We have been following it for some time. We know that there are links between terrorists in Britain and terrorists in Pakistan.”

The arrests led to a row between Britain and Pakistan over counter-terrorism strategies, with Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, saying Britain was stopping Pakistani authorities from conducting their own checks on Pakistanis travelling to Britain.

Britain earlier this week allowed Pakistani authorities consular access to seven of the men.

However, a British newspaper Wednesday quoted senior security sources as insisting that police had been right to arrest the men, adding that the priority had been to protect British citizens from a possible terrorist attack.

But the sources said detectives and the security services had encountered problems trying to convert intelligence into evidence.

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