Enemies of the State?

Submitted by PAAMember on December 15, 2005 - 4:00pm. ::

The McCarthy witch hunt - THIS is the problem with NOT providing non
US citizens due process of the law in any country! - first the man
abducted by the US military while on vacation with his family in
Macedonia, held for over a year, tortured, etc... and now this - 4
men, held for FOUR years! but NEVER CHARGED!

Enemies of the State?
By Nigel Morris
The Independent UK

Thursday 15 December 2005

Suspected of plotting terror, a group of men have been held for four
years but never charged. Now, in their first testimonies, they reveal
the authorities have not even questioned them since their arrests.
Four men deprived of their liberty for four years on suspicion
of being international terrorists disclose today that they have not
once been questioned by police or security services since being
arrested.

The four, who were among 16 suspects detained without trial
under post-11 September terror legislation, later overturned by the
law lords, give harrowing accounts of the treatment they have
suffered. All are now under virtual house arrest. Although three face
deportation, The Independent has learnt that there is no prospect of
the men ever being questioned over the offences they are alleged to
have committed.

In interviews with Amnesty International, the four - three
Algerians and a Palestinian - say their detentions have harmed their
physical and mental health. They also complain that their treatment
has had a devastating impact on their wives and families.

The men were interned in Belmarsh jail in south-east London -
which has been called Britain's Guantanamo Bay - and other high
security prisons in conditions consistently condemned by human rights
organisations. Their detentions were ruled illegal by the law lords a
year ago and they have since been released on control orders with
tough restrictions on leaving home.

Three were re-arrested in August under immigration powers
pending deportation and released by the Special Immigration Appeals
Commission Act (Siac) in October on very strict bail conditions
amounting to house arrest. One of them told Amnesty: "We've been
moving from one nightmare to another."

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International, met the
Palestinian Mahmoud Abu Rideh and an Algerian man known as "H" at
their homes in the past month and spent about an hour with each of
them, together with their wives. She said: "Both men expressed a
profound sense of injustice that their liberty had been taken from
them without their ever being charged, tried or shown any evidence
against them. Both expressed amazement that this could happen in a
country like the UK.

"But what struck me most was the impact that the detention and
subsequent house arrest of these men has had on their partners and
their families. Abu Rideh's house doesn't feel like the kind of
bustling home you would expect of a family with five children. It is
silent, sad and isolated. Friends and family are scared to visit - to
do so they have to submit their name and photo to the Home Office,
and in effect become a "known associate of a terrorist suspect".

The disclosure that the men have not been interviewed by the
authorities will embarrass ministers, who have claimed that the men
present such a terrorist threat that they have to be permanently
monitored.

In a report today on the plight of the so-called Belmarsh
detainees, Amnesty calls for charges to be brought against them or
for the restrictions on their freedom to be lifted. A spokesman said:
"Is this really what we call justice in this country? These men have
had their liberty taken from them for four years yet they haven't
even been charged and tried, let alone found guilty of anything.
What's really shocking is that these men, supposedly 'suspected
international terrorists', have never once been questioned since
their arrest."

The four - Abu Rideh and the Algerians, known as "A", "G" and
"H" - were interviewed by Amnesty. All complained of mental health
problems including depression and said that their transfer from jail
to house arrest had prolonged their ordeals.

"A" said: "I am basically locked up at home for 24 hours a
day ... the pressure of this situation is enormous on my family."

"G" complains: "Although I have access to my garden (albeit for
a limited portion of the day) I fear that if I reply to any one of my
neighbours saying 'hello' to me I will be in breach of my bail
conditions. So, I don't even go out in the garden. Every night I fear
that the police will come and arrest me again. I feel like I have
lost all access to a normal life." Abu Rideh, who has made at least
four suicide attempts, says: "I can't sleep. I spend all my time in
the house. I don't go outside much; I'm just not up to it."

A Home Office spokesman said last night: "Obviously bail
conditions are set by Siac that are considered necessary to address
the risk of absconding and to protect national security."

The spokesman did not deny that the detainees had never been
questioned by police over the past four years. He said: "We never
discuss individual cases." However, one security source said: "We
believe these men are dangerous, but they cannot be prosecuted. Under
those circumstances there's little point interviewing them."

But Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman,
said: "The fact that no questioning has taken place since arrest
suggests that little effort has been made to explore the possibility
of criminal charges. If that is the case it is completely
unacceptable ... These men have been left in a legal limbo which is
contrary to every tradition of justice in this country. Indefinite
detention has taken an appalling toll on their mental health, just as
it has with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners."

Amnesty is calling for immediate action: "If there is evidence
against them, they should be charged with a recognisably criminal
offence and tried in a British court," said Ms Allen. "Both expressed
a wish for fair treatment, not special treatment - that the
authorities should show them whatever evidence has condemned them to
this limbo, and give them a chance to refute it in court. All they
want is justice."