[JURIST] The UK Home Office [official website] has released a top terrorism suspect from a control order [ Guardian backgrounder; JURIST news archive] subjecting him to virtual house arrest because it did not want to reveal secret evidence, according to media reports Monday. Home Secretary Alan Johnson [official profile] sent a letter [Times report] to the man of Libyan and British nationality, know only as AF, at the end of last month freeing him from the three-year-old control order, but the letter did not give a reason why. The decision to free the suspect followed a June ruling [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] by a panel of nine UK Law Lords [official website] which required the government to let detainees and subjects of control orders know generally what charges they face so that they can mount a defense. It is believed that the decision to free AF will lead to at least 20 others subject to control orders to challenge the cases [AFP report] against them.
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 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 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 [text] violate human rights.