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New MI5 chief says terror suspects in Britain have doubled in the last year

Teens are being recruited to terror cause, says intelligence agency head. The government unveiled new security laws today.

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The Daily Telegraph reports that MI5 is also concerned about resources being diverted to dealing with Chinese and Russian espionage in the country.

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Jonathan Evans said his service was stretched dealing with the jihadi threat yet still had to keep an eye on Moscow's operations.
"This year, yet again, there have been high levels of covert activity by foreign intelligence organisations in our country," he added.
… Six per cent of MI5's budget goes on countering the spies, and Mr Evans said: ''Despite the Cold War ending nearly two decades ago, my Service is still expending resources to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others, to spy on us.
… They are resources which I would far rather devote to countering the threat from international terrorism – a threat to the whole international community, not just the UK."

The Independent drew attention to the timing of the revelations before the unveiling of the Labour government's latest antiterror laws.

The timing of the speech … was seen by Labour MPs as part of a softening-up process for the extension of the detention of terrorist suspects without charge beyond the current limit of 28 days.
… A QC and leading voice on civil liberties on the Labour benches, Bob Marshall-Andrews said he suspected the timing of the speech was linked to the legislation. He will oppose an extension of detention beyond 28 days unless he heard hard evidence that it was necessary. "I have still heard nothing to change my mind," he said.

Earlier, officials had suggested the the new counterterrorism bill would seek to extend detention time to 56 days. "Attempts in 2005 to extend pre-charge detention to 90 days ended in Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as PM," the British Broadcasting Corp. reports. Instead, MPs voted to extend the period from the then limit of 14 days to 28 days, with both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives refusing to support further extensions without new evidence.

Questioned recently, shadow home secretary David Davis said there remained "no shred of evidence" to support an extension, which he said could end up curbing civil liberties that "thousands, if not millions, of British citizens have died to defend."

Antiterror strategies are already under scrutiny with last week's court conviction of the London police in the killing of Brazilian electrician Jean de Menezes in operations in the wake of the July 2005 bombings of the London underground. The verdict brought both calls for the resignation of London's police chief, and fears that it would set back counter terrorism operations, reports The Scotsman.

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