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'Threats to UK security' detained

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'Threats to UK security' detained

Ten foreign nationals who the Home Office says pose a threat to national security have been detained in the UK, pending deportation.

The Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada and at least two others previously detained in Belmarsh Prison without charge are believed to be among those arrested.

The raids follow an agreement between the UK and Jordan that deportees would not be persecuted.

The arrests were made in London, Luton, Leicestershire and the West Midlands.

Those held are now in the custody of the prison service.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced the detentions, but did not reveal names.

"The immigration service has today detained 10 foreign nationals who I believe pose a threat to national security," he said.

He added: "The circumstances of our national security have changed. It is vital that we act against those who threaten it."

Meanwhile, London-based radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has been arrested in Beirut, Lebanon.

Under the Human Rights Act, the UK cannot deport anyone to a country where they may face persecution.

Some of those arrested come from Lebanon and Algeria, as well as Jordan, all of which have been criticised for poor human rights records.

But the government has reached agreement with Jordan that deportees will not be persecuted, and is in negotiation with 10 other countries, including Lebanon and Algeria.

But human rights groups including Liberty and Amnesty International believe such agreements will do nothing to safeguard the rights of those who are deported.

Control orders

Abu Qatada was one of the Belmarsh detainees, held in the high security jail without charge for about two years.

At least two other former Belmarsh detainees, known only by the letters Q and I, are said to be among those arrested on Thursday.

The man known as I is an Algerian who claimed asylum in the UK in early 1995. He was detained in April 2002, accused of supporting and raising funds for terrorist groups.

They were all released under "control orders" - a type of house arrest - earlier this year.

Birnberg Peirce, the firm of lawyers representing a number of former Belmarsh detainees, said it had found out about the arrests from the families of those held.

"One single man we know was seized from the psychiatric hospital where he has been an inpatient since his release from detention under the discredited 2001 Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act," it said in a statement.

"Of those likely to have been arrested today, five are the subject of serious psychiatric concern as a result of the damage each was caused by his previous indefinite detention."

The firm said it had not been able to gain access to the detainees or find out where they were being held.

Abu Qatada has been sentenced in his absence to life in prison by a Jordanian court in relation to a series of explosions there.

BBC home affairs correspondent Jane Hughes said the detainees' legal teams were expected to appeal against deportation.

She said: "We wouldn't expect anyone to be actually departing for a number of months."

Story from BBC NEWS:

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Oh god, there is some bleeding heart on Sky1 right now representing the British Human Rights Association saying we're sending a 'dangerious message' to the world about the path the UK is heading, and saying we can't pick who has rights and who doesn't as its uncivilised to do so. These people are pathetic.

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