Angry emails are being circulated by people about this incident at Nottingham Uni:
A masters student at the University of Nottingham who was arrested under the Terrorism Act under suspicion of possessing extremist material was studying terrorism for his dissertation, Times Higher Education can reveal. Academics and students have expressed concerns about the policeâ€™s handling of the case, which saw police searching campus property.
Rizwaan Sabir, a 22-year-old who was studying in the politics department, was arrested along with a 30-year-old member of staff. Both were released without charge on 20 May after having been held in custody for six days.
Mr Sabirâ€™s lawyer, Tayab Ali of McCormacks solicitors in London, told Times Higher Education that as preparation for a PhD on radical Islamic groups, Mr Sabir had downloaded an edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website. It is understood that Mr Sabir sent the 1,500-page document to the staff member – who was subsequently arrested – because he had access to a printer. Mr Ali said: â€œThe two members of the university were treated as though they were part of an al-Qaeda cell. They were detained for 48 hours, and a warrant for further detention was granted on the basis that the police had mobile phones and evidence taken from computers to justify this.â€
The students have released an angry email press release stating:
Nottingham University Students and Staff Express Serious Concerns about Recent Use of the Terrorism Act on Campus and Demand Academic Freedom
Following six days in police custody under terrorism legislation, two well-known and popular members of the University of Nottingham â€“ a student and a member of staff â€“ were released without charge on Tuesday, 20 May. A growing number of students and staff wish to express grave concerns about the operation on a number of grounds.
The arrests were in relation to alleged ‘radical material’, which the student was apparently in possession of for research purposes. Lecturers in the student’s department, as well as academics throughout the university, are deeply concerned about the ramifications of this arrest for academia, especially political research.
An academic familiar with the arrested student explained that his research topic was about contemporary political issues that are highly relevant to current foreign policy. The criminalisation of this kind of research is an extremely worrying sign for academic freedom, suggesting sharp limits to what may be researched at university.
Many of the university’s statements during this time have concerned and angered students and academics. The university put out a great deal of rhetoric during this period emphasising its support for the police, refusing to acknowledge either the potential innocence of the people in question, or the distress caused to them, their families, and friends.
University authorities also spoke of stopping groups or individuals who “unsettle the harmony of the campus.” This appeared to be a direct reference to recent peaceful student activism and protest, suggesting that the university is willing to clamp down on political protest using the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
Looks very heavy handed to me… I’m sure many people would say that these types of operations are necessary to prevent terrorism, but where do you draw the line? Would you be ok spending 6 days in prison (of course, the govt is trying to extend this to 42 days) while being told you were probably part of al-Qaeda?
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Terrorism