Hicham Yezza, one of the two men who were arrested at Nottingham University under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday 14th May is facing imminent deportation. Both men were released without charge after having been detained for 7 days. But Hicham, a 30-year old member of university staff and non-British national was immediately re-arrested under immigration legislation.
This is clearly a politically motivated action to try and kill the story of the original arrests to cover up the initial embarrassment. This is an attempt to circumvent the criminal justice system and push him out of the country without the usual court process. He has now been moved to a detention centre and faces deportation on Sunday 1st June. Hicham is well-known, widely liked and active on campus. Students, lecturers and the wider community have started mobilising to stop his deportation. See report and pics of the demonstration for academic freedom and against Hicham Yezza's deportation that took place in Nottingham University on the 28th May.
Audio: as featured in #5 the June Show ~ Riseup! Radio
Newswire: Comment on University Communication on Recent Events | University of Nottingham Graduate and Employee Facing Imminent Deportation Without Hearing | Notts Uni detainee innocent but still facing deportation
Website: Stop the Deportation of Hicham Yezza
Hicham Yezza, a popular, respected and valued former PhD student and current employee of the University of Nottingham faces deportation to Algeria on Sunday 1st June. This follows his unjust arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 on Wednesday 14th May alongside Rizwaan Sabir and their release without charge six days later.
It has subsequently become clear that these arrests, which the police had claimed related to so-called “radical materials” involved an Al Qaeda manual downloaded by Sabir as part of his research into political Islam and emailed to Yezza for printing because Sabir couldn’t afford to get it printed himself.
There has been a vocal response from lecturers and students. A petition is being circulated, letters have been sent by academics across the world and a demo is being planned for Wednesday. 28th May. This has clearly been deeply embarrassing to a government currently advocating an expansion of anti-terror powers.
On his release Hicham was re-arrested under immigration legislation and, due to confusion over his visa documentation, charged with offences relating to his immigration status. He sought legal advice and representation over these matters whilst in custody. On Friday 23rd May, he was suddenly served with a deportation notice and moved to an immigration detention centre. The deportation is being urgently appealed.
Hicham has lived in Nottingham for 13 years while he studied for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and worked at the university, where he has built up a large network of close friends. The huge campaign to prevent his deportation is a testament to this.
He served as a member of the University Senate for two terms (2004-5) and on the Student's Union Executive Committee, was President of the Arabic Society, was the editor of the influential Voice magazine for international students, and is the long-time editor of Ceasefire magazine, a political journal. He was a prominent member of the artistic group 'Al-Zaytouna', and weeks before his arrest performed the leading role in a feature play at Nottingham Arts Theatre. Numerous references have been collected from reputable professors and prominent members of the local and national community that testify to his integrity and strong roots in the city. He lives and works in Nottingham and has shown every intention of fighting his case, as he thinks he has excellent grounds to remain in the U.K.
He is well known and popular on campus amongst the university community and has established himself as a voracious reader and an authority on literature and music. An application for British citizenship was underway, and he had been planning to make his yearly trip to Wales for the Hay Festival when he was suddenly arrested.
It is clear from Hicham's legal documentation that there could be no reason to disallow him bail and push for his removal before his set trial date, except that the immigration services are determined to remove him without allowing him due process. The fact that his initial arrest sparked widespread protest from students and academics, and extensive critical media coverage, suggests that the removal proceedings are a hasty, desperate attempt to divert attention from the disastrous handling of his initial detention.
Even more tellingly, a significant focus of the police investigation on Hicham's editorship of the political journal Ceasefire, his committed intellectual positions, and his extensive experience of grassroots activism, suggest that both his re-arrest and the subsequent attempts for swift removal are highly political decisions. This shameful charade is an affront to the very notions of justice and respect for fundamental human rights, which the U.K. government claims to champion. This should be resisted at all costs.
Hicham had a large social network and many of his friends are mobilising to prevent his release. Matthew Butcher, 20, a student at the University of Nottingham and member of the 2008-9 Students Union Executive, said, "This is an abhorrent abuse of due process, pursued by a government currently seeking to expand anti-terror powers. Following the debacle of the initial ‘terror’ arrests they now want to brush the whole affair under the carpet by deporting Hicham."
Supporters have been able to talk with Hicham and he said, "The Home Office operates with a Gestapo mentality. They have no respect for human dignity and human life. They treat foreign nationals as disposable goods - the recklessness and the cavalier approach they have belongs to a totalitarian state. I thank everyone for their support - it's been extremely heartening and humbling. I'm grateful to everyone who has come to my aid and stood with me in solidarity, from students to Members of Parliament. I think this really reflects the spirit of the generous, inclusive Britain we know - and not the faceless, brutal, draconian tactics of the Home Office"
Direct action stopping or nearly stopping deportations:
Recent case law:
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that even "terrorist suspects" cannot be deported to countries which are likely to mistreat them.
The Court of Appeal has ruled similarly in Britain.
And even before this, when British courts were upholding deportations, it was ruled that someone cannot be deported if a court thinks they aren't a threat to national security.
So I'd say the first action should be to contact lawyers who deal with immigration and deportations, to halt the deportation and get him bailed.
Outcry after student arrested over al-Qaida research
Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days
Notts Uni Detainee Innocent But Still Facing Deportation
Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days (reprint)
Amnesty International report on Algeria
US State Dept human rights report from BEFORE they got friendly with the regime
Human Rights Watch: deportation "fig leaf for torture"
"Out of control orders"
Algeria: stronghold of the pouvoir
Interview with human rights activist 10 years ago
Algerian army holds levers of power
See you on wednesday !
and another local paper
Mathaba News Agency: UK terror laws criminalising political research, say students
The Canadian Press: Terrorism arrests at British university raise questions over academic freedom
Yorkshire Post: Outcry after student arrested over al-Qaida research
"The arrest of an academic and a student from Nottingham University, central England, for possessing extremist material has provoked outrage on the campus after it was revealed the apparent offence concerned downloading material for a PhD course... In response to the wrongful detentions, academics from Nottingham University are holding a public reading next week of the research material that led to arrests under the Terrorism Act. It is being followed silent vigil to object to the attack on academic freedom. The arrests are understood to be the first since the government issued guidelines under its counter-extremism strategy to effectively target and spy on Muslim students and Islamic groups. "
Algerian press coverage (he's been promoted to Professor in this version):
Pakistan Observer (via AP):
Latest local news
The Associated Press version
is in International Herald Tribune, Yahoo News, Arizona Daily Star, Metro Canada and dozens of other Canadian local sites, Charleston Gazette and Daily Mail Charlestone, PR-Insider (Austria) and The Scotsman.
Also across the blogosphere:
Press release appearing in Czech Republic
and via him onto the SF Bay Area Indymedia
Chronicle of Higher Education, US
BBC Midlands today also covered it but it was a bit rubbish.
Local BBC Nottinhgam written report of demo here:
Also Hicham is now back in Colnbrook removal centre at Heathrow and the removal
flight no. is now known:
BA894 at Gatwick Airport (destination Algiers) on Sunday 1st June at 9.45am.
Keep checking with http://notts.indymedia.org.uk &
Write to BA/Willie Walsh to protest the deportation at:
Fax: 020 8759 4314 (0044 20 8759 4314 if you are faxing from outside UK).
No Borders Nottingham
UCU votes to support Hich.
It's being claimed the university has contacted the Home Office demanding due process be followed in Hich's case. Wonder if this is another fib.
France 24 coverage, with long quotes from Hich and another student activist:
Statement from staff in Guardian
AP coverage of demo
Asian Image coverage of demo
No Borders Nottingham
Britain: Oppose deportation of Hicham Yezza