A University of Chester student arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences in connection with the Manchester bombing has been released without charge.
The 19-year-old was understood to have been detained at his family home in Gorton, Manchester, on Sunday, May 28, where suicide bomber Salman Abedi had stayed in the past.
Anti-terror cops then raided Sumner House student accommodation in Delamere Street, Chester, in the early hours of the next morning where it is understood the student had lived.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed the teenager was one of the last two men to be released on Sunday (June 11) as part of an investigation which saw 22 people arrested, all of whom were released without charge.
A total of 22 people were killed in the May 22 attack, including off duty detective Elaine McIver, 43, from Frodsham, and more than 200 injured.
The Daily Mirror reported that the University of Chester undergraduate at the centre of the probe was best friends with the bomber’s younger brother Hashem Abedi who is detained in Libya and wanted for questioning by GMP. He was said to be studying criminology and law, a keen boxer and Manchester City fan.
Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, Head of North West Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “During the investigation we have arrested 22 people in relation to suspected terrorism offences. Two were quickly de-arrested at the place of their detention because we were satisfied that they were not involved. The remaining people have now been released without charge.”
He added: “Each of the 20 detained people have been interviewed many times and they have been questioned about their associations and contacts with Abedi. During the investigation, we have uncovered a number of suspicious purchases of materials by individuals which can be used to make explosives.
“We have identified contact with Abedi that occurred close to the attack time and in some cases the presence of people of interest to the inquiry in Manchester city centre on the evening of the attack. Although this is not the case for every person, it is factors such as these that have led us to make arrests.
“Some of those arrested and now released have offered accounts which explain innocent contact with Abedi and we are, at this time, satisfied with these explanations. However, this has taken a considerable amount of time to work through to ensure we are satisfied and that the risk to the public has been considered. As more information comes in it will be acted upon immediately.”
Three weeks on from the devastating explosion, GMP have shared key information from the one of the biggest investigations ever conducted by the force involving more than 1,000 officers.
■ New images showing barrels stored in Abedi’s car that could help with the inquiry
■ Details of their ‘deep understanding’ of Salman Abedi’s movements in and out of the country before the attack
■ They know how the bomb was assembled and that it was likely to have been made by Abedi
■ A probe continues into whether associates could have helped him obtain or store bomb-making materials before Abedi travelled to Libya on April 15
■ Police are still searching a landfill site in Bury
■ They have found evidence of explosive materials at ‘several’ of the 29 houses they searched. All have links to Abedi
■ Hashem Abedi, Abedi’s brother who left the country at the same time as the attacker, is still detained in Libya and GMP are seeking to interview him
■ Officers have interviewed hundreds of witnesses and watched hundreds of hours of CCTV
■ They have seized around 700 media devices including phones to be examined for evidence.
DCS Jackson added: “This is very much a live criminal investigation moving at considerable speed. It is a terrorism investigation relating to 22 murders and multiple attempted murders. It will continue at its current pace as we work to understand the full extent of the involvement of anyone else. We will be speaking with more people. Work around CCTV, financial transactions and telephone contacts will continue as we piece together the movements of Abedi in fine grain detail.
“Hashem Abedi, the brother of Salman Abedi, left the country at the same time as the attacker on the 15th April. Hashem Abedi is currently detained in Libya, there is much media reporting about what he has said in Libya and we wish to interview him in relation to this attack.
“This was a premeditated, calculated and vicious attack. It was planned carefully and has caused devastation and heartbreak to so many. We have a massive team still working flat out on it and there are critical lines of enquiry at home and abroad which we will relentlessly pursue.”