|Britain Grants Bail to Foreign Terror Suspects
By Tom Rivers
11 March 2005
Eight foreign terrorism suspects held for nearly three years in Britain have been granted bail after the law they were being held under was declared illegal.
The detainees, who have been held under Britain's emergency anti-terrorism laws that came into effect after the September 11 attacks in the United States, were being held indefinitely without trial.
Three months ago, Britain's highest court ruled that the law was illegal and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
Among those who have now regained some of their freedoms is Abu Qatada, a Muslim cleric said by several European governments to have links with al-Qaida.
Strict bail conditions have been placed on the eight including a nighttime curfew, restrictions on who they can meet and on their access to cell phones and the Internet.
Their release came on a day when Tony Blair's government had to fight with opposition politicians over the exact wording of new legislation that would replace the flawed anti-terrorism statutes now on the books.
"On a day when you have people who are dangerous people according to judges, not politicians, not even the police, released from prison. On a day we commemorate the Madrid bombing and the many people who died, if God forbid, any terrorist act happens to this country, believe you me, people are not going to be asking whether this legislation is too draconian," said Mr. Blair.
At the heart of the issue was when in the future lawmakers could review the law. Following two days of discussions and votes on amendments, the government and opposition lawmakers finally reached an agreement on ways to review the legislation.