A former British soldier prosecuted for terrorist offenses and suspected of espionage, Daniel Khalife, was arrested on Saturday in London after three days of a run which captivated the United Kingdom.
“Metropolitan Police officers arrested Daniel Khalife, who escaped from Wandsworth Prison on September 6,” London Police announced in a statement.
He was arrested shortly before 11 a.m. in an area of west London, where his presence had been reported on Saturday evening, and is in police custody, Scotland Yard said.
He was arrested “around 75 hours” after his disappearance. A turnaround "rather quick given the difficulties in trying to find this individual", Commander Dominic Murphy, head of London's anti-terrorist police, told journalists.
He was stopped by a plainclothes police officer while he was cycling on a path alongside a canal, and during his arrest showed himself to be "fully cooperating, was handcuffed and arrested", he added.
The police had promised up to 20,000 pounds sterling (23,000 euros) for any information leading “directly” to his arrest.
His arrest puts an end to three days of manhunt, the slightest upheavals of which were followed by the British media.
The police had deployed a very extensive system, fearing that he would manage to leave the country.
From the G20 summit in India, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greeted the news on British television channels, thanking the police for their "tremendous work" and the "public for their help".
The 21-year-old is suspected of collecting intelligence that could be used by terrorists or enemies of the UK. According to several media, including the BBC, he is suspected of having acted for the benefit of Iran.
This escape caused astonishment and raised questions about the security of the prison system.
Daniel Khalife escaped by clinging to a truck that came to make a delivery to the prison kitchen, where he worked. Straps were found under the vehicle, suggesting he was strapped into it.
The escape was “clearly prepared in advance,” London police chief Mark Rowley said on Friday.
Daniel Khalife is being prosecuted for facts dating back to January and August 2021, at a Royal Air Force base in Stafford, in central England.
He is accused of having obtained or attempted to obtain information "about an individual who was or was a member" of the British army, "likely to be used by a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" .
He is also being prosecuted for a false bomb threat on January 2. He was kicked out of the army in May.
He contests the charges against him.
Once the fugitive has been caught, “the legal process must be able to resume its course,” noted Justice Minister Alex Chalk in a press release.
“Nothing should be said or done that influences a future trial,” he added, stressing that the investigations he requested into the level of security of the penitentiary establishment and the choice to have Daniel imprisoned there Khalife are in progress.
“I will spare no effort to shed light” on how these facts could have happened, he added.
Before the deputies on Thursday, the minister promised that the fugitive would be arrested and brought to justice.
Labor MP Rosena Allin-Khan denounced before Parliament the inadequate and dangerous working conditions of prison staff in this establishment, citing insufficient numbers.
Wandsworth Prison was once the scene of one of the country's best-known escapes, that of Ronnie Biggs, in 1965, who was serving a 30-year sentence for the attack on the Glasgow-London mail train two years ago previously.
After making out with a rope ladder, he lived 36 years abroad, including in Australia and Brazil, before being arrested in 2001 on his voluntary return to the UK. Released for medical reasons in 2009, he died in 2013.
09/09/2023 20:01:37 - London (AFP) - © 2023 AFP