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Caution urged over new anti-terror law

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HUMAN-RIGHTS campaigners have urged caution over plans to make it a crime to "associate" with terror suspects.

The proposal being considered by the Home Office could see people jailed if they ignore warnings not to contact certain groups or individuals.

A similar law was introduced in France several years ago after bombings by terror groups originally from Algeria.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty International told BBC News Online it was almost impossible to define "association".

"Is it a chance meeting or does it mean having strong ties with terrorist groups?" she said, suggesting it could mean people would be jailed for being friends with terror suspects.

A Home Office spokesman said it was a question of striking a balance between ways of dealing with the threat of terrorism and respect for human rights.

"We think it?s right to look at how other mature liberal democracies have tackled the problem," he said. "This has been very successful in France."

The government wants to stop those on the fringes of extremist groups being drawn into acts of terror and to make it more difficult for terrorists to get help and support from members of the public.

It would issue a formal warning to all known contacts of suspects or radical groups.

The French "associating with a wrongdoer" law allows people to be arrested and prosecuted for being linked with a group planning a criminal act.

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