US department of Justice distributing terrorist literature - Go to Jail, Do not stop do not collect your degree
The Times Higher Education this week has a most extraordinary tale of lack of academic freedom and how the University authorities at Nottingham mean to keep it that way.
Rizwaan Sabir, a 22-year-old Mastesr student studying for a Phd the politics department of Nottingham University downloaded (date not known) an edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website. http://usdoj.gov/ag/manualpart1_1.pdf
As he had no printer he sent the file to another staff member Hisham Yezza (date not known) who had access to a printer to print the 1,500 pages off free (or at the Uni's expense anyway).
On the morning of Wednesday 14 May, 2008 Sabir and Hisham Yezza were arrested by the Police under the Terrorism Act under suspicion of possessing extremist material. They were held for six days whilst a thorough investigation involving their families and friends was carried out.
The Muslim News reports a a uniformed Plod presence was in place at the University’s main Trent building during the time Sabir and Yezza were held . 'The police regularly attempted to collate information about student activism and peaceful campaigning. They asked numerous questions about the student peace magazine ‘Ceasefire’, and other political student activities.
Indy news reports Police cars rushed onto campus at high speed in the middle of the exam period. Eyewitnesses have reported hearing loud sirens. Several security and police vehicles, including a scientific support team, parked outside the main Trent building in the middle of campus. Students passing by had their bags searched at random. The homes of the arrestees’ friends and family were thoroughly searched.
Mr Sabir’s lawyer, Tayab Ali of McCormacks solicitors in London is quoted .." “The 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.”
The THS report says a spokesman for Nottingham University confirmed that the police had been called after material was found on the computer used by a junior clerical member of staff. “There was no reasonable rationale for this person to have that information,” he said. “The police were called in on the basis of reasonable anxiety and concern. In response to that, the police made a connection with a student who, we understand, was impeding the investigation and arrested that person.” They added," ...the edited version of the al-Qaeda handbook was “not legitimate research material” in the university’s view."
Jonathan Ray, spokesman for the university, said: "He had forwarded the information on to someone else who was a 30-year-old member of clerical staff, who was not connected with the research."
A Nottinghamshire police spokesman said the police had applied for a warrant to extend the detention. “The judge was satisfied with the evidence presented and granted the extension,” he said.
A statement has been made by students and staff and a petition is being circulated . A commentator "Concerned" claims that the document is available on the official website of the US Department of Justice and the FBI and continues to be available on the RAND corporation website (a US-government sponsored think tank), the Federation of Atomic Scientists' website and other official and credible websites. e.g Cryptome the unedited version http://cryptome.org/alq-terr-man.htm
The 2 men were released without charge on Tuesday 20 May, 2008 in the afternoon. No terrorism charges have been bought against Hisham Yezza who was re-arrested and is currently being questioned over immigration matters. The Guradian report today that Yezza is Algerian , has been in the UK for 13 years and faces deportation. Yezza is being held at Colnbrook immigration removal centre, due to be deported on Tuesday.
On his release Sabir said, ""On Tuesday they read me a statement confirming it was an illegal document which shouldn't be used for research purposes. To this day no one has ever clarified that point. They released me. I was shaking violently, I fell against the wall, then on the floor and I just cried."
The Muslim News reports that In response to the wrongful detentions, academics from the University of Nottingham will be doing a public reading of the research material that led to arrests under the Terrorism Act on campus, outside the Hallward library, University Park Campus, at 2:00pm, on May 28. The reading will be followed by a silent protest where students and academics will symbolically gag themselves to object to the attack on academic freedom."
Contact: Musab Younis: 078901018073, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Sam Walton 07814683906, email@example.com
Rizwaan Sabir, is a PalSoc committee member, and was arrested by police during a protest in February for breach of the peace. The Palestinian Society protest, at which he was arrested involved the erection of a six-foot wall was erected outside the Hallward Library, with the inention of raising awareness about the wall built by Israeli forces around sections of the West Bank. See Indymedia report at time
You Tube of wall being erected http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZLwtit8GXM This is a MUST see for Friends of Plod.
Nottingham is Gun Crime Central, it is awash in drugs and the problems that the dealers and squalif crew that this results in. It is encouraging that Plod can take the time out from their War on Drugs , having had an evidently stroppy, loud, student fingered by an evidently ruthless and stupid University to make an example of him.
Just another step into the darkness....
Lenin's Tomb comments today .
The Full text of the petition circulatin at Nottingham is (Indynews)
Protect Academic Freedom On Wednesday 14th May 2008 two innocent members of the university community were arrested by police, under the Terrorism Act 2000.
The arrests were in relation to alleged ‘radical material’, which the individuals were in possession of for research purposes. This material is widely available on the Internet, including on official US Government sites, which are used for reading lists in the School of Politics.
It has become clear from statements made by the police and university that the arrests took place after university authorities contacted the police.
There is widespread concern that the two individuals were targeted for investigation at least in part because of their ethnic backgrounds. The two were held for six days without charge whilst an intrusive investigation involving their families, friends and political affiliations was carried out. They were released without charge on Tuesday 20th May 2008. One was immediately re-arrested on immigration grounds.
We, the undersigned, believe that this incident constitutes a serious violation of academic freedom, and sets a worrying precedent.
We, the undersigned, demand that the University of Nottingham:
a) Acknowledges the unreserved innocence of the student and staff member in question
b) Apologises for the great distress caused to them, their families, and their friends
c) Acknowledges the disproportionate nature of the university’s response to the possession of legitimate research materials
d) Guarantees academic freedom on campus for all staff and students regardless of their ethnic background or political views
e) Takes steps to ensure freedom of speech and freedom of expression on campus
A Poster advertising the demo is downloadable here