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Relief after Syria arrest man freed

The family of a man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after he apparently attempted to travel to Syria have spoken of their relief after he was released without charge.

Waheed Ahmed, 21, was arrested earlier this month at Birmingham Airport, along with two men and two women aged between 22 and 47 who were held at Manchester Airport.

The five were among a group of nine people from Rochdale, five adults and four children, who were detained by Turkish authorities at the Turkey/Syria border almost three weeks ago.

A 30-year-old man was arrested in the Rochdale area earlier this month, but all six have now been released without charge.

Speaking after the decision, Shakil Ahmed, a Labour councillor in Rochdale, spoke of his joy at being reunited with his family, the BBC said.

He told reporters: "Waheed is very happy to be back with his family. I believe it is important to remind some of the media and fellow politicians that all people should be regarded as innocent unless proven otherwise.

"We should be careful not to express negative comment prior to the completion of an investigation or court process, otherwise we risk stigmatising and demonising a family as well as potentially jeopardising people's right to a fair trial.

"This has been a very stressful time for our family and friends. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our lawyers and everyone else who have supported us through this difficult time, including MEP Afzal Khan. We ask that you respect our privacy and allow us time to get our lives back to normality."

An investigation was launched by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit after the nine people were stopped in Turkey, and those arrested were held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Greater Manchester Police said: "No evidence was uncovered to suggest any imminent threat to the communities of Rochdale or the UK."

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