Skip to main content

Six men freed day after they were arrested during pope visit

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
5 arrested during pope's visit
  • NEW: Six men are released by Scotland Yard
  • No one was charged
  • No weapons or suspicious materials were found
  • Arrests were related to the pope's visit

As a sex abuse scandal rocked the Roman Catholic Church, what did Pope Benedict XVI -- then a cardinal and Vatican official -- know, and when? Watch the investigation "What the Pope Knew," September 25 & 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN U.S. and on September 25 at 7 p.m. CET and September 26 at 8 a.m. HK on CNN International.

London, England (CNN) -- Six men arrested Friday morning in London on suspicion of terrorism related to Pope Benedict XVI's visit were freed overnight without charge, the Press Association said.

Scotland Yard spokesman Alan Crockford told CNN that the men were released around midnight (7 p.m. ET Saturday).

Their release came after police searched eight homes in north and east London and two businesses in central London, including a street-cleaning operation, London's Metropolitan Police said.

The searches found no weapons or suspicious materials, police said.

The six are aged 26, 27, 29, 36, 40 and 50, it said.

Has pope done enough to punish guilty priests?
Video: American nuns take on the Vatican
Video: Pope visits Scotland: Day 1
Video: Pope's popularity in the UK
Video: Pope's UK visit proving controversial

The 29-year-old was arrested at a home in north London Friday afternoon; the others were arrested as they prepared to start their shift as street cleaners before 6 a.m. Friday, it said.

Prior to the men's release, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope and his representatives were not worried about the arrests.

"The police have already said that the information they have until now collected demonstrated there is no need to change anything about the program of the pope and the security," Lombardi told reporters in London.

He said he believed the police had simply taken "normal precautionary measures," and that everyone remained "calm."

"The pope is happy with the trip until now, and we can go on with the same joy as until now," Lombardi said.

The men are street cleaners for Westminster City Council, the borough of London that includes Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and many of the city's tourist attractions, the council said.

They work for one of Westminster's contractors, Veolia Environmental Services, the council said.

They were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to hold them without charge for 28 days.

CNN's Andrew Carey contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
iReport: Send images, video
Are you going to see the pope? Show us what's happening and tell us if you're praising or protesting
Why is pope visiting UK?
As the UK receives Pope Benedict XVI, a question hangs over the state visit: Why did he make the trip?
Poll: Pope has not done enough
A poll for CNN shows British people believe the pope has not done enough to punish priests who abuse children
Abuse survivors demand justice
Survivors of abuse by Catholic priests want more information on their allegations to be made public
Opinion: Worth the money
If you invited a friend to dinner would you escort them to the door at the end of the evening and present them with a bill?
Opinion: He should not be here
We don't believe the pope should be honored with a state visit. We also object to the taxpayer funding part of the trip
Blessed twice by the pope
Rosemary Stevenson was the first person to receive communion from a pope in Britain, aged 8
Popemobile takes center stage
Appropriately enough, the car is a Mercedes; a converted M-Class. A German Popemobile for a German pontiff