British police have released nine of the 11 mostly Pakistani men arrested during a major anti-terror operation in northwest England earlier this month, a spokeswoman said.
“The northwest counter-terrorism unit has released nine of those arrested as part of a national operation,” a spokeswoman for Manchester police said.
She said the men, aged between 22 and 38, were subsequently transferred to the custody of the UK Borders Agency, which is responsible for controlling immigration into Britain.
\’No information passed to families\’
Two men remained in police custody and the spokeswoman said searches were continuing at an address in Manchester.
Twelve men were originally arrested in the raids on April 8, among them 11 Pakistani nationals and a Briton. One man was released into the custody of the UK Border Agency three days later.
Relatives of the suspects in Pakistan had pleaded their innocence and demanded access to them saying neither the British nor the Pakistan government had provided them with information on their detention.
Under British anti-terror laws, suspects can be held for a maximum of 28 days after their arrest without being charged, subject to judicial review.
“Protecting the public is the main focus of the police. These arrests were carried out after a number of UK agencies gathered information that indicated a potential risk to public safety,” the spokeswoman said.
“Officers are continuing to review a large amount of information gathered as part of this investigation. Investigations of this nature are extremely complex.”
Gaffe mars investigation
The raids had to be brought forward after Britain\’s top counter-terrorism policeman was photographed holding clearly
legible briefing notes on the operation.
He resigned over the gaffe, although Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told politicians this week the operation had not been compromised.
The government has come under pressure to strengthen its visa rules after it emerged that 10 of the Pakistani men arrested were in Britain on student visas.