British terror watchdog to probe pope visit arrests

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The British government's terrorism legislation watchdog is to probe the arrests of six men over an alleged threat to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Britain, the interior minister said Tuesday.

Police swooped on the men, who were employed as street cleaners in the central London district of Westminster, in armed raids during the state visit in September.

There were all later released without charge and police sources said they had posed no "credible" threat.

Police searches of eight homes and two business premises in London failed to uncover any weapons or suspicious materials.

London's Metropolitan Police refused at the time to confirm reports that the men had been arrested after they were overheard joking about attacking the pope as they took a break in their canteen.

Home Secretary Theresa May, the interior minister, said the outgoing independent reviewer of terror laws, Alex Carlile, would conduct a "brief review" of the arrests.

© 2010 AFP

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