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British Top Court Hears Challenge to Anti-Terror Law - 2004-10-04

Britain's top court is considering a legal challenge to an anti-terrorism law that allows the indefinite detention of foreigners without charge or trial.

Eight of the nine people petitioning the Law Lords Monday on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act have been detained for nearly three years. The Law Lords are members of Britain's House of Lords, and sit as the country's high court.

The act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States, allows the British Home Secretary to jail foreign terrorism suspects indefinitely if expulsion to another country would endanger their lives.

Attorneys for the petitioners argued Monday that such detention is inconsistent with democratic values. They said the law is "doubly unacceptable" because it singles out foreigners.

The British government had to opt out of provisions of the European human rights convention in order to implement the law.