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Anger over laptops for UK terror inmates

'Dangerous waste' complain prison staff

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Terror suspects housed in Britain's top secret Belmarsh prison have been given laptops in order to allow them to review legal papers. Overstretched prison officers describe the issue of £1,000 laptops to 28 inmates as a "dangerous waste of money", The Daily Mirror reports.

The PCs have been supplied without internet access, but security staff still fear resourceful suspects in the south London jail might use them for subversive purposes. "The prisoners could easily make CD-ROMs, which could be handed to visitors, and orchestrate criminal activity from the inside. Inmates are incredibly resourceful. It wouldn't surprise me if they eventually managed to get the internet on their laptops," an anonymous source told the Mirror.

Prisoners, including man a accused of attempted bombings on London's transport system on 21 July 2005, and radical muslim cleric Abu Hamza, who was jailed for seven years last month following his conviction for incitement to murder and race hate crimes, enjoy private use of the laptops in their cells. Inmates suspected or convicted of terror offences are housed in a special high-security unit at Belmarsh, which staff told the Mirror is around a third understaffed.

The Prison Service said it is obliged to supply the computers. "Under Prison Service Orders, prison inmates must have access to adequate facilities to prepare their legal cases. Much of the information provided by the Crown Prosecution Service relating to their cases is stored in electronic format. Prisoners must be able to read this evidence," a Prison Service spokesman told The Daily Mirror. ®

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