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Justice for Hich

12:20 pm - December 30th 2008

by Unity    

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Lib Con has picked up on the ongoing case of Hicham Yezza (Hich to his friends and supporters) on a couple of previous occasions in daily news round-ups, but events over the last few of weeks necessitate giving the story a bit more detailed coverage.

And we need your help in highlighting this.

In May 2008, Hich, an Algerian national who’s lived and worked in the UK for more than decade, was arrested at his office at Nottingham University’s School of Modern Languages under the Terrorism Act 2000, as was his friend, Rizwaan Sabir, a postgraduate student researching terrorism at the university’s School of Politics and International Relations.

As for the events leading to their arrest, it emerged, several days after they were arrested, that Sabir had downloaded an alleged Al Qaeda training manual from the website of the US Department of Justice, where it had been openly available since December 2001. Sabir obtained the document in question, which had already been extensively edited/censored by the US DoJ before publication, in order to use it in his research and had done nothing more with it than forward it to Hich for printing to save himself a few quid.

For this ‘crime’ both were arrested and held by the police for six days before being released without charge, at which point Sabir was free to return to his studies, while Hich was immediately rearrested on Immigration charges and, a mere three days later, made subject to a fast-tracked deportation order which was scheduled to be executed on June 1, a mere eight days after it was issued – and all this despite Hich having publicly declared his intent to fight the charges against him.

Hich spent the next three weeks or so being shuttled around from one Immigration Removal Centre to another while his lawyers succeeded in, first, preventing the execution of the deportation order and, subsequently, securing his release on bail. As part of this effort to prevent Hich being summarily slung out of the country in which he’d lived for thirteen years, a deal appears to have been brokered under which the Home Office agreed to back off and not seek his deportation until after he’d been tried on a number of immigration charges, at least two of which have have already been formally dropped by the CPS at a hearing during which the trial judge openly questioned whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the case.

The strategy adopted by Hich and his lawyers seems pretty transparent – give him his day in open court, rather than in the closed and secretive environment of an immigration tribunal, and hope for best; not just an acquittal but also a complete demolition of the whatever justification the Home Office might be working to in seeking to eject him from the UK. It’s a strategy that was, until recently, quite clearly working out as expected.

At the end of November, the Home Office suddenly changed its position, welched on the agreement to lay off immigration proceedings until after the criminal trial, and scheduled a new immigration hearing for January 8 2009. Why they performed this rapid about face is, obviously, a matter on which they haven’t commented but given the circumstances of the case the obvious inference is that their efforts to build a criminal case against Hich have fallen flat and they’re now desperately trying to cover their collective arses by shunting him out of country before they’re forced to admit to their failure by either dropping the remaining charges or having their case thrown out by a court for lack of evidence. The timing of this hearing is, similarly, illuminating – Parliament is currently in recess and remains so until 19 January, effectively precluding any awkward interventions by his MP, Alan Simpson, or other supportive parliamentarians.

This has also, unfortunately, had the effect of leaving Hich without legal representation. While his lawyers had been dealing with both the criminal and immigration proceedings they only have a legal aid franchise for the criminal side of Hich’s case, leaving him to meet the costs of representation in the immigration proceedings from his own funds.

Those funds have now run out and for the past few weeks it’s looked very much as Hich would have to represent himself at the January hearing, although I now understand that a specialist immigration lawyer has been found to take on his case under legal aid, which will hopefully improve his chances but in no sense compensates for the despicable actions of the Home Office.

The overpowering stench of a farce turning rapidly into a stitch-up hangs over this whole case like a starving vulture. The so-called Al Qaeda training manual that was supplied to Hich for printing was so heavily censored by the DoJ before it was posted on their website that its consisted of a mere 180 pages of text – on precisely none of which are to be found any reference to Al Qaeda itself – where its believed that the full Al Qaeda training manual weighs in at a hefty 5,000 pages.

The more you look into Hich’s case the more obvious it becomes that there simply isn’t a case at all, and yet the Home Office persists in seeking to deport him for reasons that are entirely unclear but which appear to have everything to do with simply saving face and keeping the deportation figures ticking over. A more obvious and Kafkaesque abuse of process one couldn’t imagine.

So, what can we do?

Well, there’s a campaign website (naturally) which offers a good list of suggestions but with time-pressing and Hich due to face an immigration tribunal in a little over a week’s time, perhaps the best thing we can all do, as bloggers, is start making as much noise as possible.

So, if you’ve got a blog and you do just one thing over the next couple of days, then please make it a post highlighting Hich’s situation. With the Home Office doing everything possible to deport Hich without drawing unwelcome attention to its appalling behaviour, the one clear counter move we have open to us is that of making sure that Hich’s case gets as much public attention as possible.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Our democracy ,Terrorism

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Reader comments

Sounds like a bureaucratic cock up doesn`t it but I cannot say being deported to Algeria is the end of the world . He is Algerian after all and are you sure you know everyhting they know ? I recall how suprised even near reletives were at the identity of the 7.7.bombers and other plotters caught ‘pre murder’.

On the grounds quoted by Newmania, there is an equally solid case for arresting Newmania on terrorism charges. As to his deportation, i have no inkling of his or her nationality, be it single or multiple.

Newmania, this isn’t the first time the Home Office, CPS, and police have colluded to abuse the legal system, and I am much more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to Hicham Yezza (particularly as he is innocent until proved otherwise) than I am to the authorities (particularly because of the way they have proceeded with this specific case).

‘He’ is English and cannot be deported as he is not an immigrant .’ He’ has , incidentally , not down loaded and sent any bomb making instructions to anyone either which may help my case. Still you may have a point having had the occassional dust up with Plod I know excatly how the saving face mechanism works .

If Hicham Yezza has downloaded and sent bomb making instructions to anyone, let him be charged and prosecuted under, say, s54(b) Terrorism Act 2000, “providing instruction or training in the making or use of explosives”. Give him his day in court or leave him alone – surely that is reasonable?

That he isn’t being prosecuted with anything is an indication that the authorities can’t prove their case against him.

I was going to write about this too… will definitely be flagging it up at my blog.

Nothing is resolved by idiots like you trying to make names for yourselves. Unity you are a total prat. Get some qualifications and information or stop interfering.

Heh, interesting outburst from Tan. Meanwhile those with principles and a wish for the legal system to not be abused will continue to support those being screwed by people like Jacqui Smith. Guilty or not, of anything, fairness of trial proceedings in paramount.

the last thing anyone who fights injustice needs is a nut like unity trying to sell his wack blog off the backs of peoples misery

needs is unity

Dear oh dear, when will the sockpuppets ever learn.

The Tan/Genna comments come from the same BT Internet IP address, which is, and that puts our sockpuppet in and around the North East London/Essex area.

And, actually, that gives me a thought, because the only fresh post to link to this today happens to be one by Rachel North and the location seems about right so, if you’ve not been introduced previously then please feel free to say a big old hello to Felicity, Rachel’s personal nutjob stalker.


13. bemused reader

Censoring comment s now, Unity?

Kindly explain to the readers of this blog why you are trying to state that ‘Felicity’ is the only person in London and that others have not noticed what an embarrassment to British and American Justice you are.

Oh, you’re back Felicity, and you’ve moved to a different internet cafe as well.

And no, no one’s censored any comments on this thread, which rather gives the game away, but as I’m not particularly inclined to play whack-a-troll I may well start blocking IP addresses if you don’t take the hint and piss off.

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