The UK introduced the controversial anti terror legislation soon after the September 11th attacks.

But the Law Lords ruled by an eight to one majority the legislation breached Britain’s human rights obligations.

The country’s British human rights groups called for the immediate release of the nine men detained under the legislation.

Some have been imprisoned for nearly three years, prompting campaigners to call the detainee situation Britain’s Guantanamao Bay.

Lord Bingham said the section of the anti-terrorism Act under which the men were held breached the European Convention because it “permits detention of suspected international terrorists in a way that discriminates on the ground of nationality or immigration status”.

In his ruling, Lord Nicholls said “indefinite imprisonment … deprives the detained person of the protection a criminal trial is intended to afford.”

He said the main weakness in the Government’s case of opting out the Convention’s right to a fair trial lay in the different treatment of nationals and non-nationals.

“It is difficult to see how the extreme circumstances, which alone would justify such detention, can exist when lesser protective steps apparently suffice in the case of British citizens suspected of being international terrorists.”

However, the government continues to take a tough stand on the issue.

In his first day in the job following David Blunkett’s resignation, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the men would remain in prison and that the illegal measures would “remain in force” until the law was reviewed and possibly modified next year.

Solicitor Gareth Peirce, who represents eight of the detainees, said if there was no swift government action, the detainees could ask the European Court of Human Rights to get involved.

She claimed the detention had driven four of the detainees to “madness”, saying two were being held in a hospital prison.

In a statement from his prison, detainee ‘A’ said: “I hope now that the government will act upon this decision, scrap this illegal ‘law’ and release me and the other internees to return to our families and loved ones.”

The detainees took their case to the House of Lords after the Court of Appeal backed the government’s powers to hold them without limit or charge.

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