Terrorist suspect Daniel Khalife should have been in a category A maximum security prison over his espionage charges, a senior government adviser on terrorism says.
Jonathan Hall QC, the UK’s independent assessor of terrorism law, questioned why former soldier Khalife, 21, was placed in HMP Wandsworth, a category B prison in south London, after being charged with a crime against the state as potential spy for Iran.
He is said to have escaped on Wednesday morning by tying himself to the bottom of a van after leaving the prison kitchen in a chef’s uniform.
Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, has ordered a report into whether Khalife’s security level was appropriately graded to place him in a category B prison rather than a category A, like the high-security Belmarsh prison in the south-east from London.
Mr Hall said that, unlike many other terrorists, anyone accused of espionage could have access to a network of supporters linked to a hostile state.
Power that is not open to other terrorists
“You would wonder: Can they get help? Is it possible that he is part of a network that has a capacity that is not open to other terrorists,” he said. “I would have thought that someone accused of espionage should be held more securely.”
The ex-Signals soldier, formally based at Beacon Barracks in Stafford, was charged in January with breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly committing ‘an act prejudicial to the security or interests’ of Britain in a plot allegedly linked to an enemy nation. .
Khalife, born in Britain but with Middle Eastern heritage, is said to have collected details that “could be useful to an enemy” between May 2019 and January 2022.
He was also accused of eliciting information about members of the armed forces useful for terrorism by capturing personal data from the Defense Department’s joint personnel administration system on August 2, 2021.
Khalife was arrested on January 2 this year after allegedly planting fake bombs – three canisters of wires – on a desk in his barracks.
The soldier was discharged from the military when he faced criminal charges of committing a bomb fraud “with the intent to induce in another person the belief that the said objects were likely to explode or ignite.”
Since his arrest, judges have refused to grant the terror suspect bail ahead of his trial at Woolwich Crown Court on November 20. Khalife was last seen in public at the Old Bailey in July when he denied all three charges.
Mr Chalk has also ordered an investigation into security failures that allowed Khalife to escape and whether all prisoners at Wandsworth have been properly categorized. There will also be a review of all 271 terrorist prisoners in English and Welsh prisons to determine whether they are being held in the correct prisons.
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