Ten foreign citizens have been detained by police prior to deportation, according to Home Secretary Charles Clarke. They were seized on Thursday 11 August by four police forces working with the Immigration Service. Charles Clarke says he is acting under powers contained in the Immigration Act 1971. The Home Office has refused to name the people arrested. They are thought to include a number of the men previously detained without charge or trial under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the released following a ruling in their favour by the Law Lords in December 2004. Until yesterday, the men were living under severe restrictions imposed through "Control Orders" issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. According to figures released by Mr Clarke in June, 11 people are subject to Control Orders.
Mr Clarke said yesterday: "In accordance with my powers to deport individuals whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security, the immigration service has today detained 10 foreign nationals who I believe pose a threat to national security.
"They will be held in secure prison service accommodation and I shall not disclose their names.
"Following months of diplomatic work we now have got reason to believe that we can get the necessary assurances from the countries to which we will return the deportees so that they will not be subject to torture or ill-treatment."
Abu Qatada, who is regularly and misleadingly labelled in the press as "al-Qaeda's spiritual ambassador in Europe", is believed to be among the people detained. He is a refugee from Jordan who has been living in Britain for 12 years; he is currently the subject of a Control Order.
The Human Rights Act prevents the government from deporting anyone to a country where they would face torture or execution. On the day before the arrests, the government announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan asserting that deportees would not be mistreated on their return. The government says that it also had "constructive conversations" with authorities in Algeria and Lebanon last week over guaranteeing the safety of deportees. A number of Algerian men are likely to have been among the ten people detained yesterday.
Lawyer Gareth Peirce, who represents many of the men, said yesterday that she had not been shown any such memorandum. She has codemned the assurances the government claims to have obtained as "unenforceable" and says they provide brutal regimes with an apparent endorsement by our government