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UK court overturns control order against suspected terrorist

[JURIST] A control order [JURIST news archive] against a suspected terrorist known as AN was overturned [judgment text] Friday by the UK High Court. In overturning the control order, the high court relied on a June decision [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] from a panel of nine Law Lords [official website] requiring the government to let detainees and subjects of control orders know generally what charges they face so that they can mount a defense. Home Secretary Alan Johnson [official profile] has announced plans [BBC report] to draft a new control order against AN. Civil rights group Liberty [advocacy website] condemned the new control order [press release] as a circumvention of the law, claiming, "A handful of officials and specially-vetted lawyers have outlasted dozens of Ministers and built their careers on punishment without trial - leaving Britain less safe and less free"

Control orders allow the British government to conduct surveillance and impose house arrest on suspects where there does not exist enough evidence to prosecute. The orders can also be used to forbid the use of mobile phones and the Internet. In February, a UK counter-terrorism official said that some suspects living under control orders have managed to maintain contact [JURIST report] with terrorist organizations. Control orders were first introduced [JURIST report] by the government of former prime minister Tony Blair in 2005 and, apart from being politically controversial, have already run into problems in the courts [JURIST report]. The UK Law Lords ruled [JURIST report] in a series of decisions in October that the government can continue to impose control orders on terror suspects in lieu of detention, but said that some elements of the orders issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 violate human rights.

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