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UK government frees second terrorism suspect from control order

[JURIST] The UK Home Office [official website] has released a top terrorism suspect from a control order [Guardian backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that subjected him to virtual house arrest because it did not want to reveal secret evidence, according to media reports Thursday. Home Secretary Alan Johnson [official profile] sent letters [Guardian report] to lawyers for the man, known only as AE, notifying them that the decision was made after considering a June Law Lords ruling [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] requiring the government to let detainees and subjects of control orders know generally what charges they face so that they can mount a defense. Lawyers for AE called for a repeal of the entire control order system, saying that their client and his family and suffered irreparable harm.

There are still 14 control orders in force, and last week Johnson said that the government would undertake a review [JURIST report] of the system. Johnson issued a ministerial statement [text] saying that his "current assessment is ... that the control order regime remains viable," but that he would "be keeping this assessment under review." Earlier this month, the Home Office released another terrorism suspect [JURIST report] from a control order because it did not want to reveal secret evidence. In August, a control order against a suspected terrorist known as AN was overturned [judgment text; JURIST report] by the UK High Court. At that time Johnson had announced plans [BBC report] to draft a new control order against AN. The UK Law Lords ruled [JURIST report] in a series of decisions last 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 violate human rights. 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.

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