Socialist Worker

British authorities step up their vendetta against Hicham Yezza - by jailing him

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2142

Hicham Yezza

Hicham Yezza


Hicham Yezza, the Nottingham university administrator who was falsely accused of terrorism for printing off an “Al Qaida” document, has been jailed for nine months for immigration irregularities.

Hicham’s prosecution and sentence are part of a campaign of state harassment against him.

He was arrested last year after he printed off the document to help a friend, Rizwaan Sabir, a postgraduate student drafting a PhD proposal on Islamist politics.

The document, allegedly an edited version of an Al Qaida training manual, was freely available online and had been downloaded from the US department of justice website.

After a public outcry, both Hicham and Rizwaan were released without charge.

But to cover their embarrassment, state authorities have since relentlessly pursued Hicham.

They rearrested him on immigration charges and almost succeeded in deporting him to Algeria last year.

Hicham’s legal team is now considering an appeal against his sentence.

The ongoing vendetta against Hicham comes at a time when Britain’s civil liberties record in the “war on terror” is coming in for increasing criticism.

Binyam Mohamed, the recently released Guantanamo Bay detainee, last weekend accused British intelligence agents of directly colluding in the savage torture he received while he was imprisoned in Morocco.

“They started bringing British files to the interrogations – not one, but several of them, thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London and places there like mosques,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

“It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.

“When I realised that the British were cooperating with the people who were torturing me, I felt completely naked. They sold me out.”

Binyam’s revelations put further pressure on David Miliband, New Labour’s foreign secretary, who has lied, issued gagging orders and attempted to confuse the issues to avoid admitting the British state’s complicity in torture.

The United Nations (UN) weighed in against the government on Tuesday of this week with a new report.

UN special rapporteur Martin Scheinin accused Britain of helping out with the US’s “rendition” programme for terrorism suspects – kidnapping them and shipping them abroad to be tortured.

He added that the British government was using “state secrecy provisions” to hide “illegal acts from oversight bodies or judicial authorities, or to protect itself from criticism, embarrassment and, most importantly, liability”.

The report adds, “The active or passive participation by states in the interrogation of persons held by another state constitutes an internationally wrongful act if the state knew or ought to have known that the person was facing a real risk of torture or other prohibited treatment.”

For updates on Hicham Yezza’s campaign go to » freehicham.co.uk


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Tue 10 Mar 2009, 18:32 GMT
Issue No. 2142
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