Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: Thought Criminal Deported

28 May 2008

Thought Criminal Deported


The Guardian brings us disturbing news about the state of Ingsoc (or New Labour, or whatever you want to call it). Apparently, visiting students can be arrested and held for a week just for researching topics like al-Qaeda:

A masters student researching terrorist tactics who was arrested and detained for six days after his university informed police about al-Qaida-related material he downloaded has spoken of the "psychological torture" he endured in custody.

Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics.

The case highlights what lecturers are claiming is a direct assault on academic freedom led by the government which, in its attempt to establish a "prevent agenda" against terrorist activity, is putting pressure on academics to become police informers.

Sabir was arrested on May 14 after the document was found by a university staff member on an administrator's computer. The administrator, Hisham Yezza, an acquaintance of Sabir, had been asked by the student to print the 1,500-page document because Sabir could not afford the printing fees. The pair were arrested under the Terrorism Act, Sabir's family home was searched and their computer and mobile phones seized. They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation.

Of his detention, Sabir said: "I was absolutely broken. I didn't sleep. I'd close my eyes then hear the keys clanking and I would be up again. As I realised the severity I thought I'd end up in Belmarsh with the nutcases. It was psychological torture.

"On Tuesday they read me a statement confirming it was an illegal document which shouldn't be used for research purposes. To this day no one has ever clarified that point. They released me. I was shaking violently, I fell against the wall, then on the floor and I just cried."

Sabir has spent 13 of his 22 years in the UK, and fears that he will be tortured if he is returned to Algeria.

Read the rest here.


Anonymous R J Adams said...

Apparently, his visa was up for renewal in July 2008. He had already re-applied but this has now been denied, solely it would seem because he downloaded this manual. Given that British Immigration authorities, like their American counterparts, are cold-blooded, hard-hearted, unfeeling slobs, it seems unlikely justice and decency will prevail. Capitalism is slowly eroding democracy in favor of police states throughout the western world.
This from academics at Nottingham University (letter to the Guardian):

"As members of the University of Nottingham faculty we are very concerned about the recent arrests of a postgraduate student and administrator (Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days, May 24). The arrests affecting the schools of politics and modern languages, as is now well documented, led to no charges and were based on the possession of sensitive but legitimate research material. The problem arose because the administrator thoughtlessly printed it out for a friend who could not afford to print it himself.

Aside from the issues of academic freedom, our first concern is for our colleague Hicham Yezza, who is due to be deported on "visa irregularities". We now believe the date for that deportation is June 1, but because we have little information it is difficult to be sure. We have regularly received university communications about the arrests, but this has explained nothing about the procedures leading to the arrests, nor anything about the nature of the "visa irregularities". We also know nothing concerning the status, welfare and fate of Hicham himself. We ask the university to do everything it can to ensure that there is due process and that our colleague receives a fair hearing.
Professor Roger Bromley
Dr Neal Curtis
Professor Chris Pierson
and 28 others
Nottingham University"


5:01 am  
Anonymous gordo said...


This is really emblematic of the "know nothing" school of counter-terrorism. Attempts to understand terrorists and the conditions that inspire them is forbidden, because the more we understand the problem, the less likely we are to implement the sorts of 'solutions' that enrich the military-industrial complex and enhance the security state.

How long were the British plagued with terrorism before finally beginning to address the legitimate grievances that led to illegitimate tactics? How long will it be before the US and the UK begin to do the same in the Middle East?

1:25 am  

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