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Terror suspect Daniel Khalife today denied escaping from Wandsworth prison, sparking a 75-hour manhunt.
The former soldier, 21, is accused of breaking out of HMP Wandsworth on September 6 by using bed sheets to strap himself to the underside of a food delivery truck.
A major operation involving anti-terror police and the security services MI5 and MI6 was launched following Khalife’s alleged jail breakout.
He was arrested on a canal towpath in Northolt, west London, three days later after he was pulled off a bike by a plainclothes counter-terrorism officer.
Khalife appeared at the Old Bailey via video-link from maximum security HMP Belmarsh, charged with escape, contrary to common law.
Daniel Khalife, 21, has been charged with escaping custody at HMP Wandsworth, the Metropolitan Police said
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Daniel Khalife, appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London earlier this month
Wearing a bright yellow and blue patterned top and matching tracksuit bottoms Khalife spoke to confirm his name and date of birth and told the court ‘I’m not guilty.’
HMP Belmarsh is a category A security prison, while HMP Wandsworth is category B.
Khalife appeared via video-link from the segregation unit, which houses up to 16 prisoners serving periods of punishment or needing to be separated from others.
Category A prisons house male prisoners whose escape would pose the most threat to the public, police or national security.
British-born Khalife, who has Iranian and Lebanese heritage, was on remand at Wandsworth jail ahead of his trial for breaching the Official Secrets Act and an alleged bomb hoax offence at his barracks.
He allegedly left three canisters with wires on his desk in his accommodation at MoD Stafford, also known as Beacon Barracks, on January 2 this year.
Khalife is also accused of committing an act prejudicial to the interests or safety of the state by collecting information that might be useful to an enemy between 1 May 2019 and 6 January 2022.
A third charge alleges he elicited information about soldiers from the MoD Joint Personnel Administration System at the barracks that was likely to be useful to commit an act of terrorism on 2 August 2021.
Khalife was pulled off a bicycle by a plain clothes anti-terror detective on a canal towpath
He was arrested and brought into custody following his four-day alleged escape from prison
Khalife is accused of escaping from Wandsworth by clinging to the bottom of a delivery van
He denies those offences and had been due to stand trial at Woolwich Crown Court on 13 November.
Mr Justice Jeremy Baker ordered that the escape charge be dealt with at the same trial, estimated to take four weeks.
Gul Nawaz Hussain, KC, defending, asked for the trial date to be moved back to December 4, which the judge refused at this stage.
Prosecutor Thomas Williams earlier told how Wandsworth prison notified police that Khalife was missing on the morning of September 6.
He had been working in the jail kitchen and ‘there were suspicions he had disappeared via a food delivery truck.’
Police officers intercepted the delivery truck at 8.40am in Upper Richmond Road.
They found two makeshift straps, made from material thought to be from bed sheets, with clips on each end, attached to the underside of the vehicle.
Later. the Met said a member of the public reported seeing a man matching Khalife’s description walking away from a Bidfood van that had stopped near the south entrance to Wandsworth Roundabout on the Wednesday morning.
Khalife made it less than 10 miles from the jail following his alleged escape earlier this month
Khalife has pleaded not guilty to escaping from Wandsworth prison
An escorted armoured police van arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court ahead of an appearance by former soldier Daniel Khalife on September 11
Officers then carried out a search in the Richmond area and, although Khalife was not found there, the force received a number of calls from the public with sightings of the suspect nearby.
Police were seen checking people’s gardens, stopping cars, inspecting car boots, and asking residents for their IDs throughout Saturday morning.
Mr Williams said: ‘There was a four-day manhunt of 150 police officers per day, using resources from other police forces and government agencies.’
The court heard Khalife was arrested at 10.41am on September 9 after a plain clothed officer, in an unmarked vehicle received reports he had been spotted on a bicycle.
Khalife had in his possession a small amount of money, clothes and a mobile phone.
He told officers he had ‘almost been caught on several occasions’, that he ‘hated the governor of Wandsworth’, and that he had been to Richmond Park and the Chiswick area.
He will next appear for a hearing at the Old Bailey on October 13.
Earlier this month, it emerged around 40 inmates of HMP Wandsworth have been moved out of the Category B prison after terror suspect’s escape, the Justice Secretary has said.
The former soldier previously appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Hundreds of police were involved in the operation to recapture Khalife, who escaped the Category B prison
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the preliminary findings of his investigation into the ageing London jail have found that the relevant procedures and security staff were in place.
But he said dozens of individuals on remand have been moved to different sites ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid questions over why a former soldier accused of a terror offence was not in the highest security prison.
Mr Chalk told Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: ‘Out of an abundance of caution, some prisoners there – some of those on remand – have been moved (this week).
‘Additional resources have, of course, gone into Wandsworth, so there’s additional governor support, a former governor with particular expertise in security.
‘But also, out of an abundance of caution, around 40 prisoners have been moved just while we get to the bottom of what took place in Wandsworth. That is a sensible, precautionary measure.’