The seven men were amongst twelve students arrested in April as part of what the government trumpeted as a major terrorist crackdown.
All investigations were subsequently dropped by the police who declared there was no criminal case to be made. However, the Home Office is now attempting to deport the men, plus two others, on grounds of national security. The basis for this is the flimsy claim that emails sent from one of the men to his girlfriend regarding plans for marriage were in fact ‘cryptic’ messages alluding to a terror plot.
The cases are being heard by the Special Immigration Appeals Court, the most secretive court in the UK. In a break with fundamental principles of the English legal system, individuals are not informed of the case against them and their lawyers cannot defend them before the court. Instead, the government appoints ‘special advocates’ who argue on their behalf, while there is no disclosure of what they classify as sensitive information.
Critics say that in cases like this it allows the government to use the smokescreen of ‘national security’ to pursue the deportation of foreign nationals when there is in fact no prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. For the accused the result is a Kafkaesque situation in which the possibility of indefinite detention or deportation looms, without so much as an indication of what they are alleged to have done.
One of the released men has been placed under restrictions including an electronic tag and curfew. The Home Office is trying to deport him on the grounds that he worked more hours than his visa permitted while studying.
“This man has assignments to complete before he can finish his university course. However, he is not allowed access to his computer or notes,” says Tariq Mehmood of the Justice 4 the North West 10 (J4NW10) group, which is campaigning on behalf of the men.
“What’s more his mother is very ill and he has been prevented from going to see her and then returning to Britain. He has no money and is given vouchers to spend in supermarkets in order to subsist. These are humiliating and appalling conditions in which to live.
“Moreover for these men the prospect of returning to Pakistan with under the cloud of unsubstantiated terror accusations is alarming. Return could be dangerous.”
Re-post from www.themule.info
Last week another facet of the government’s anti-terror policy took a blow when the House of Lords for the first time ruled the use of a control orders unlawful. Control orders effectively allow house arrest of suspects for a potentially indefinite period, issued by the executive, without criminal charges being brought. Endorsing a European Court of Human Rights ruling, the law lords declared that suspects are entitled to the disclosure of sufficient material to enable them to defend themselves.
In light of Gordon Brown’s comment that a “very big plot” had been averted with the Easter raids, it appears that the government is pursuing deportation for reasons other than national security.
Mehmood remains resolute in the case of the Pakistani students.
“This is a political case, not a legal one. Everyone thinks they are being held as terrorists – that’s how the government has portrayed it – when in fact this is an immigration case, much of it relating to visas. What brings hope is if students and others start to challenge what is going on.”
Sign the J4NW10 petition at: http://www.j4nw10.org/