Freed speech

IssueJuly - August 2008
News by David Polden

After a vigorous campaign to defend him, Nottingham University staff member and peace activist Hicham Yezza was freed from detention on 15 June and the threat of deportation lifted.

After a university staff member found the manual on his computer, Hicham, editor of the university peace magazine, Ceasefire, was arrested on campus on 21 May, along with 22-year old research student Rizwaan Sabir. Both were held under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading an al-Qa’eda training manual for illegal use.
Sabir had asked Hicham to print off the 1,500 page document because he couldn’t afford the printing costs. Subsequently, homes were searched, and mobile phones and computers, including 20 university computers, seized.
The two were held for six days and questioned about student activities and the funding for Ceasefire, even though Rizwaan’s university supervisors said the manual, downloaded from a US government website, was directly relevant to Rizwaan’s research on US foreign policy. They were then released without charge, but Hicham was immediately re-arrested on allegations of working and living in the UK illegally, threatened with deportation to Algeria, taken to Dover Immigration Removal Centre and booked on a flight there on 31 May.
After Hicham was released, campaign coordinator Musab Younis expressed his delight, commenting: “The incredible success of the campaign is testament to Hicham’s deep roots in the community and unique contribution as a well-known activist, academic, writer and artist.”

Topics: Prison, Terrorism