On 12 February, after a surprisingly brief trial (the judge cut the presentation of complex evidence down to one day), peace activist and former Nottingham University student Hicham Yezza came closer to being deported from Britain after a jury found him guilty of lying to immigration officials about the expiry of his visa – “securing avoidance of enforcement action by deceptive means”.
Sentencing is due on 6 March, at which point the government is likely to resume its campaign to deport Hicham, who came to national prominence after he was detained in May 2008 on anti-terrorism charges for possessing a publicly-available al-Qa’eda document downloaded from the US justice department website.
Supporters believe the current immigration charges are an attempt by the government to smear Hicham and distract attention from their initial blunders and repressive actions.
The Free Hicham! campaign is gearing up for more protests to prevent Hicham’s deportation to Algeria, which has already been defeated once by mass action.