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Channel 4 Journo Jamal Osman: I am a British citizen – not a second-class citizen

Posted by on 26/05/14 in Latest News, Slider, Stories | 0 comments

Channel 4 Journo Jamal Osman: I am a British citizen – not a second-class citizen

26 May 2014 Coming through passport control is an ordeal, I am followed on the street and hassled by security services. Not all citizens enjoy the same rights. If you are British and think that every British citizen enjoys the same rights, my story and those of thousands of others should convince you otherwise. I arrived in Britain in 1999 having fled the civil war in my home country, Somalia. My asylum application was approved a year later. During that time I was given accommodation and a weekly food voucher worth £35. For this I will always be grateful. As soon as I was permitted to seek employment I started looking for a job. I worked in a laundry, a warehouse and as a taxi driver – simply to survive. Later I trained to become a journalist. I joined Channel 4 News as a reporter, largely covering Africa – a role that required frequent travelling. And that is when my nightmare at the hands of Britain’s security services began. I have been detained, questioned and harassed almost every time I have passed through Heathrow airport. In 10 years, only one of my colleagues has been stopped. During the past five years I have also been repeatedly approached by security services trying to “recruit” me. The incentives they offer range from a “handsome salary” or a “nice car” to a “big house”. I have even been told that they “could help me marry four wives”. I have declined all their offers. Their psychological tactics include telling me how easy it is for them to take away my British passport and destroy my career – and even my life. I have received regular phone calls from people I believe to be Special Branch, who invite me for a “chat over coffee”. “No thanks, I don’t drink coffee,” I reply. As someone who appears on television regularly it is not unusual for strangers to greet you in the street or even ask questions about a particular story you’ve done. But the people who follow me on the street – the spies (I call them “the Vauxhall guys”) – have a different approach. After introducing themselves by their first names they declare their interest. Would I like a chat and a coffee. It won’t take long. Their hunting ground is London’s Victoria station, which I use regularly. I go to the EU and British passport holders’ queue when returning through Heathrow airport; I observe with interest as fellow travellers file smoothly past border control. Yet when I approach, trouble always follows. “Where are you from?”, “How did you obtain a British passport?”, “Have you ever been in trouble with immigration?” I answer all their questions courteously and respectfully until the inevitable happens and the official says: “Take a seat, I will be back.” Returning from my most recent trip, I took my regular seat near the control desk. Half an hour later a grey-suited man sat next to me.”Hello, how are you?” he asked. “Are you from Somalia? I hear from other Somalis that things are improving now. That is what I would like to talk to you about.” I told him that I didn’t particularly want to talk about Somalia and that I just wanted to go home. “Don’t try and be difficult,” he snapped at me. “I’ll detain you if you don’t answer my questions.” And so it continued for another 15 minutes, during which he continued with his threats and with calling me an “idiot” and a “bad person”, claiming “you will die angry and the world would be a...

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CAGE/AJE EXCLUSIVE: UK mulls softening anti-terrorism law (video)

Posted by on 08/04/14 in Latest News, Slider, Stories | 0 comments

CAGE/AJE EXCLUSIVE: UK mulls softening anti-terrorism law (video)

08.04.14 Parliament debates “Schedule 7” legislation, which allows police to detain travellers for hours without suspicion. The man who monitors the UK’s anti-terrorism laws says British Muslims must accept being detained for questioning when they travel in and out of the country.  A law known as “Schedule 7” allows police officers to detain travellers for hours without any suspicion, sometimes asking them for their opinions on British foreign policy. Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee has this exclusive report from London. Click here for...

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Muslim man stopped by police was wrongly refused access to solicitor

Posted by on 20/02/14 in Latest News, Litagation, Stories | 0 comments

Muslim man stopped by police was wrongly refused access to solicitor

Thursday 20 February 2014 A Muslim man detained by police at an airport on his way home from the holy journey to Mecca, has won a significant legal battle over the UK’s anti-terror laws. The high court declared that Abdelrazag Elosta was unlawfully refused access to a solicitor before he was detained and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. A judge ruled that Elosta had undergone “45 minutes of unlawful questioning”. Allowing Elosta’s application for judicial review, Mr Justice Bean said: “The examining officers had no power to question the claimant after he had requested the presence of a solicitor and prior to the solicitor’s arrival.” Government lawyers had been due to appeal against the ruling but on Thursday it was announced that the appeal had been withdrawn. Anne McMurdie, of Birmingham-based firm Public Law Solicitors, who represented Elosta, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the case. This is a very important judgment confirming the existence of vital procedural safeguards for travellers in ports and airports detained and compelled to answer questions in circumstances where refusal to answer may result in criminal conviction. “We are pleased that the government has had second thoughts and has taken action to amend the statute to make sure these rights are clearly spelled out, instead of continuing its fight through the courts to deny people at port and airports access to legal advice.” Elosta arrived at Heathrow airport on 10 November 2012 in an organised group and was stopped by police officers for examination underSchedule 7. Mr Justice Bean said that the examining officers began to question Elosta and he provided his name, address, phone number and passport details. He asked, however, to speak to his solicitor in Birmingham before answering further questions. An examining officer phoned the solicitor at 4.30pm and told her the questioning was likely to last 30-40 minutes. The examining officer said Elosta had “a right to consult a solicitor in private” but the examination would not be delayed pending her arrival. The judge said Elosta was permitted to speak to his solicitor on the phone but not in private as officers remained in the room and could hear what he said, though probably not what the solicitor said. The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has now accepted that it was “inappropriate” for the examining officers to have heard what was said and apologised. Elosta’s solicitor told the examining officers she would arrange for a London solicitor to go to the airport but another officer came to the phone and repeated that the police would not wait for that solicitor’s arrival before starting questioning. The officer said they would continue the examination at 5.30pm and would arrest Elosta if he refused to answer any question. Elosta’s solicitor called back at 5.26pm and asked for a delay until the London solicitor could attend but the request was refused and the warning about not answering questions repeated. The questioning began at 5.45pm and ended shortly before 6.30pm and Elosta was permitted to leave. McMurdie said the government has now made late changes in the House of Lords to the anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill 2013-14 to reflect the Elosta ruling by setting out expressly rights to legal advice. She said the bill also reduces the time of maximum examination under detention from nine to six hours and provides that if questioning continues beyond one hour a person must be formally detained “and thus will have right to legal representation from that point”. Source The...

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LATEST TESTIMONY: Our experiences of ‘Travelling while muslim’ on Al Etejah English TV (video)

Posted by on 06/02/14 in Latest News, Stories | 0 comments

LATEST TESTIMONY: Our experiences of ‘Travelling while muslim’ on Al Etejah English TV (video)

06.02.14 Asif Bhayat and Omar Begg recount how they were targeted and treated unjustly at Heathrow airport, London UK. If you have been stopped using these powers please get in touch, contact[at]cageprisoners[dot]com

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