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UK minister says terror threat requires balancing civil liberties and security

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary John Reid [official profile] told journalists on Wednesday that in response to threats of terrorism, the civil liberties of individuals must be "balanced" against the "collective right to security." Reid's comments followed his Wednesday appearance before a meeting of top European Union [official website] justice officials during which he briefed them on the UK investigation into a foiled terror plot [JURIST report] to allegedly blow up airplanes flying from Heathrow airport to destinations in the US. With Tuesday's arrest of another suspect [JURIST report], 24 suspects are now in custody, one other having been released [JURIST report] last week. Reid's comments Wednesday echoed some in a speech [Guardian report] Reid delivered the day before the first round of arrests were made where he said "Sometimes we may have to modify some of our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse and abuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms in the modern world."

During the EU meeting, Franco Frattini [official website], the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, suggested that member nations should consider using biometric data, such as fingerprints and voice recognition technology, to profile potential terrorists, rather than racial or religious characteristics as mooted in British media reports of UK government plans [JURIST report] Tuesday. In 2005, the UK launched Project Semaphore [Home Office backgrounder], a database project aimed at electronically tracking passengers who enter and leave the UK, has been credited with leading to a number of the recent arrests. AP has more.

9:04 PM ET - Scotland Yard announced late Wednesday that another suspect in the alleged airplane bombings plot has been released. A British judge ruled earlier Wednesday that 21 suspects could he held for an additional period without charge through August 21, and two more could be held until August 23. AP has more.

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