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  • Campaign to stop deportation of Hicham Yezza!

    by Sunny
    28th May, 2008 at 3:36 am    

    I blogged last week about two people from Nottingham University, Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza, who were arrested when the police thought there were downloading terrorist material. It turned out they were researching the material and downloading it from an American govt website. The police let them go after 6 days of questioning.

    But the story doesn’t stop there. The dimwits from the police force, in order to cover up their own embarassing stupidity, decided they would deport Hicham Yezza in order to make themselves feel better. 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. His visa conditions say if he is arrested then the home office has the right to deport him.

    So the police wrongly arrest him and then use that as an excuse to deport him! It’s at times like this I wish I could become a more sweary blogger because the idiocy of govt officials never ceases to amaze me. There was an article in the Independent on Sunday highlighting this.

    Hicham Yezza is such a popular figure at the uni that there is protest today at the uni to highlight his deportation. There is also a popular Facebook group, with more info, and a blog - Free Hicham Yezza. If you’re in the Nottingham area, try and attend the demonstration! He is apparently being deported this Sunday. A disgrace.

    Update - good news, this story is all over the press!
    Press Association // Guardian letter // Boston Herald // BBC News

                  Post to

    Filed in: Civil liberties,Net Campaigns

    11 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Gege — on 28th May, 2008 at 9:32 am  

      if the facts are true,the state has clearly abused its power.

      I doubt he will receive much support from the MSM as they will be inclined to believe that as a muslim, he must have been up to something.

    2. Andrew — on 28th May, 2008 at 11:06 am  

      I’d want to see chapter and verse on some of these claims - I know someone who had a quite close association with Yezza in the past and who says he’s a good guy and doesn’t deserve any of this, but some of the claims being made by his supporters don’t add up.

      He wasn’t researching terrorism - he is/was an engineering student (may still be registered as studying for a PhD, maybe not), who has been working recently as a secretary in the school of modern languages. I can see why someone finding an Al Qaeda training manual on such a person’s computer might be suspicious.

      “Confusion over his visa documentation” is a phrase which is popping up all over the place. Confusion about what? Not his eligibility to work full-time in the UK, possibly?

      I’m open to correction if anyone can uncover the regulation which says if you’re arrested you can be deported, but my suspicion (especially given that he was already applying for permanent leave to remain in the UK) is that the investigation uncovered the fact that he has been working on a student visa and is not doing much if anything in the way of studying, and that’s the reason for deportation. Which doesn’t make the behaviour of the police or immigration service any more excusable, but is a more plausible story than the one currently being told.

    3. Katy Newton — on 28th May, 2008 at 11:51 am  

      Woah there! This doesn’t add up. I don’t believe that someone can be deported simply on the basis that they were arrested and released without charge. “Confusion over his visa documentation” means that when he was arrested his immigration status was checked - as is standard practice with all detainees - and the visa has expired, is fraudulent in some way or he is in breach of its conditions.

      An article in the Guardian, which the Free Hicham Yezza blog links to, makes it quite clear that the immigration offences with which Yezza was charged are unrelated to the original arrest:

      They were released uncharged six days later but Yezza, who is Algerian, was immediately rearrested on unrelated immigration charges and now faces deportation.

      I’m not saying that his deportation is justified because I don’t know enough about it, but I’d be wary of campaigning on the basis that he’s being deported because he was arrested for terrorism, given that all the sources tend to suggest that he was just unlucky that in being arrested his visa came under closer scrutiny than it otherwise would have.

    4. Louise — on 28th May, 2008 at 1:23 pm  

      But because his deportation is being fast-tracked and immigration are refusing to give details of what they claim is wrong with his visa (or to test their claims at a proper hearing), you have no way of answering those questions until this unfortunate man is deported, and if you decide to campaign for him then, it will be a bit too late in the day.

      There is no excuse for fast-tracking or denying clear and above board process in this case - the only reason for that can be to avoid awkward questions. At the very least people need to demand transparency in the case and insist that a proper hearing take place.

      The deportation should be halted and justice openly seen to be done or else this will exercise a chilling effect in universities. Researching political Islam or helping a researcher? Better make sure you’re white and cant be deported any further than Saffron Walden.

    5. Andrew — on 28th May, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

      Immigration are refusing to give details to who? Yezza and his legal team, or bloggers? I’m not an expert but I don’t believe that you can be told “we’re deporting you because of problems with your visa but we’re not going to say what those problems are”.

      As I said, I’m not supporting or excusing the actions of the law enforcement agencies here. I’ve known many, many people like Yezza - nominally Jordanian or Nigerian or Thai or whatever, but by the time they’ve spent half their lives in the UK education system they are thoroughly assimilated and settled here, and it’s a bitter blow when their education comes to an end and in effect they are told “here’s your PhD, now fuck off back to wherever you come from”. I have every sympathy, and I think there should be a very low bar to such people being able to stay here permanently and gain citizenship.

      But I can’t help feeling that there’s smoke being blown around from both directions.

    6. Kismet Hardy — on 28th May, 2008 at 3:12 pm  

      Bloody hell this is so frustrating. I’m writing a book that touches on terrorism but it’s bollocks that anything meaty I want to research might get me landed in belmarsh. For fuck’s sake

    7. Anas — on 28th May, 2008 at 4:25 pm  

      I attended the demo and found it quite a positive and hopeful experience despite the fact that it was pissing down heavily pretty much the whole time and my shoes were leaking and I didn’t have an umbrella. The abysmal weather meant the reading outside the library wasn’t as effective as it could have been. A lot of people were huddled close to the library building to gain shelter from the continuous downpours - a few metres from the reading. I scarcely heard any of it, except the loud American lecturer who mentioned the translation code which was at the head of the printed material in question and which should have alerted the authorities to its origin. I guess I’ll have to download it myself if I want to learn more about being a shaheed (J/K if the authorities are reading this).

      Then some MP (didn’t catch his name) whipped the crowd up with a number of slogans, and a reasonable description of why Hicham’s case was so disturbing: why it was worth demonstrating. What I found most positive was that were a large number of students there 150-200 at my guess (and my guess is rubbish it could’ve been more)- impressive for a campus that is shamefully apathetic when it comes to politics given the miserable rain, and the fact we’re in the exam period.

      We then went on a silent walk thru campus, and the whole thing was rounded off with a phone call to Hicham relayed through another student. Hicham thanked us all for our support and told us to keep doing what we could, all to several rounds of loud applause and cheers.

      The more I think about this the more it disturbs me: I mean that you could be locked up for 6 days for downloading something that is on Amazon — and that the government can then move to deport someone without clear and open legal proceedings just to tidy things up, to Algeria of all places. And this is all especially scary if you have brown skin and a funny Muslim name. Truly this is no time for apathy.

    8. rupahuq — on 29th May, 2008 at 8:10 am  

      A truly awful chain of events. You couldn’t make it up. Apparently Yezza (staff) was printing the stuff for Sabir (student) as the latter couldn’t afford to pay for it himself. Maybe the moral is not to do illicit printing/photocopying on the sly… but then we’ve all done that and deportation seems wholly disproportionate. Have posted on it myself for what it’s worth:

    9. Mike — on 29th May, 2008 at 10:05 am  

      The MP at the protest was Alan Simpson, of course.

    10. Katy Newton — on 29th May, 2008 at 6:04 pm  

      it was pissing down heavily pretty much the whole time and my shoes were leaking and I didn’t have an umbrella.

      Dude. Think AHEAD.

      Well done for going.

    11. HitchH8r — on 4th June, 2008 at 9:50 am  

      Why are you deleting my comments? The guy is a criminal, boot him out of the country!

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