CAIR – 7/9/10
CAIR today issued an advisory to American Muslims — whether citizens, permanent residents or visa holders — warning of the risk of “forced exile” when traveling overseas or attempting to return to the United States. Muslim travelers are urged to know their legal rights if they are placed on the so-called “no-fly list.”
In the past few months, CAIR has received a number of reports of American Muslims stranded overseas when they are placed on the government’s no-fly list. Those barred from returning to the United States report being denied proper legal representation, being subjected to FBI pressure tactics to give up the constitutionally-guaranteed right to remain silent, having their passports confiscated without due process, and being pressured to become informants for the FBI. These individuals have not been told why they were placed on the no-fly list or how to remove their names from the list.
SEE: Cases of American Muslims Barred from U.S. (CAIR)
American Man in Limbo on No-Fly List (NY Times)
U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad (Wash. Post)
FBI agents have reportedly told a number of individuals that they face being stranded outside the United States longer, or forever, unless they give up their rights to legal representation or to refuse interrogations and polygraph tests. But even those who submitted to interrogations without an attorney or to the “lie detector” tests remain stranded.
CAIR cooperated with the ACLU on its recently-filed lawsuit challenging the lack of due process in placing travelers on the no-fly list.
“We ask President Obama to review this disturbing new policy that denies American Muslims their constitutional rights and due process of law,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
He said American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. And as Americans, we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right to due process and to re-enter their own country.
If you know of any criminal activity, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Know Your Rights if Placed on the No-Fly List:
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Before traveling overseas, obtain the cell phone number of an attorney who would be available for consultation if you are barred from returning to the United States. Finding an attorney once you have been stopped or detained is much more difficult. Provide the attorney’s contact information to those scheduled to pick you up at the airport.]
1) Understand that agreeing to an interview with FBI agents is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any questions from law enforcement officers. You must however provide them with a passport or other official identification.
2) You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. CAIR strongly recommends that you consult with an attorney before being interviewed by law enforcement agents. CAIR may provide legal assistance or can refer you to an attorney.
3) Stay calm. Do not get into an argument with law enforcement officers.
4) Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and that lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense. Also note that an FBI agent is permitted to lie to you in the course of an interrogation.
5) Should you decide to speak to agents without an attorney despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, whether a third party such as a family member is present, which questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time. Take detailed notes during any interview.
6) Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers and business cards of ALL agents or officers. Similarly, make a note of the name, agency, contact information, and supervisor of any other government employees, including embassy staff.
7) Contact your attorney and CAIR to report the incident and to discuss your next legal steps. If you believe that your civil rights have been or are being violated, you may file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and with the Department of State. CAIR can help you with this process.
8) To file a civil rights complaint with CAIR-PA, please visit: http://pa.cair.com/report/
9) If you have Internet access, file a complaint with DHS TRIP (Traveler Redress Inquiry Program) by going to: www.dhs.gov/trip
10) Have your spouse or other family members contact your elected representatives to seek assistance.
“FBI Interview: Knowing the Law Can Protect You,” by Ahilan Arulanantham and Ranjana Natarajan. InFocus News, February 2007.
Video: “Got Rights: Protect Yourself and Your Family at Home and at the Airport,” by Muslim Advocates.
[Please note: The points outlined above are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about this material or about a specific case, please consult with an attorney.]
Babar Ahmad was left with 73 injuries after his first arrest in 2003. He is presently being held in a small cell
Babar Ahmad, 35, is the longest-serving prisoner held without charge or trial in the UK. In his first media interview since his arrest on a US extradition warrant in 2004, Mr Ahmad tells Robert Verkaik that he is the forgotten victim of the ‘war on terror’. In March 2009, he was awarded £60,000 in compensation after an admission by the UK’s anti-terrorist police that they subjected him to ‘grave abuse, tantamount to torture’ during his first arrest in December 2003. Corresponding via email from a secure isolation unit at Long Lartin prison, he calls on the Government to charge him or release him. Today, the European Court of Human Rights rules on his case.
Can you describe your life in the UK before your arrest?
I was born in the UK and have spent all my life living in south London in the Balham/Tooting area. At the time of my first arrest in December 2003, I was employed full-time as an ICT Support Analystat Imperial College London. My job entailed supporting the software needs of undergraduate academic teaching and postgraduate research. I have always been a devout Muslim and others would describe me as adhering to mainstream Islamic teachings. I have never been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence.
Describe the conditions of your detention.
I have been held in a number of prisons throughout the high-security estate since my arrest in 2004. I have been designated a category A prisoner. Initially, I was held on normal wings in prisons, alongside prisoners of all different categories. I was then moved to a small unit in HMP Long Lartin and held with other men fighting extradition or deportation. Over the last year and a half, the conditions of my detention have deteriorated. I spend all day, every day on a small unit with seven other prisoners. We are isolated from all other prisoners and all our time is spent in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small unit. If I am extradited to the US, my conditions will deteriorate further. I face the possibility of life without parole in solitary confinement under the harshest of prison regimes in a Supermax prison, far from home, family and friends.
What is the case against you?
The central US allegations against me revolve around a family of websites that provided news in nearly 20 languages on Chechen resistance fighters who were defending their land against the Russian Army’s invasion of Chechnya in the 1990s. According to the US, this was terrorism [The Home Office says Mr Ahmad is accused of providing material support to terrorists]. But according to UK this was, and still is, legal as Chechen resistance fighters have never been proscribed as a terrorist organisation, unlike al-Qa’ida. In fact, the leader of the Chechen resistance has been living in the UK for several years, having been granted asylum.
The US claims jurisdiction because it is alleged that one of the several dozen computer servers on which the websites were hosted was located in the US for approximately 18 months from early 2000. The US accepts that the websites were also hosted on computer servers around the world and that “at all times material to the indictment” I was living in the UK. Other peripheral allegations against me are that a US naval battleship plan document was allegedly seized from me in December 2003. The media raised uproar about this document when I was arrested on the extradition warrant. However, in a letter to Sadiq Khan MP, the former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith wrote that it could not even be proven that it was in my possession. Another document seized from my parents’ house was a tourist brochure (belonging to my father) of the Empire State Building in New York, which prompted the media to report “al-Qa’ida planned to attack Empire State Building”. That brochure is dated 1973, which is when my father visited New York. What is more incredible is that UK police returned this brochure to my father after I was arrested on the extradition warrant, yet it still forms part of the evidence against me.
How were you tortured in the UK?
On 2 December 2003, I was arrested in a pre-dawn raid by anti-terrorist police officers at my home in Tooting. During my arrest and subsequent journey to the police station, the officers subjected me to a “serious, prolonged and gratuitous attack” and “grave abuse tantamount to torture”, which left me with at least 73 physical injuries including bleeding in my ears and urine. I was held in custody for six days during which my home and office were searched, computers seized and analysed and I was questioned. On 8 December 2003 I was released without charge, after the CPS determined that there was no evidence to charge me with any criminal offence whatsoever. I believe that part of this decision was based on the fact that any future criminal trial would air embarrassing details of the abuse inflicted on me at my arrest.
Following my release I filed a formal complaint against the police and I gave several interviews describing my treatment. My case began to prove highly embarrassing to the Blair government.
When were you re-arrested?
After two months recovering from my injuries, I returned to work in February 2004 and tried to rebuild my life following my ordeal. On 5 August 2004, on my way home from work, I was re-arrested pursuant to an extradition warrant from the US under the controversial, no-evidence-required US-UK Extradition Treaty and taken to a high-security prison where I have remained ever since. To this day I have not even been questioned about the allegations against me.
Why is the US Government so determined to see you face trial there?
The question to ask is why has the Blair/Brown Government been so determined to extradite me? In my case there is documentary evidence to suggest that it is not the US that is really interested in me, but the Blair/Brown Government that has been determined to send me there at any cost. One only has to read the ferocious, lengthy representations that the Foreign Office has made to the European Court of Human Rights urging, almost begging, the Court to extradite me to the US. Their Herculean efforts eclipse those made by the US government itself.
What message do you have for the Coalition Government in respect of your extradition?
I have now been in prison fighting extradition for six years, which is the equivalent of a 12-year sentence. Whilst in prison I have outlived the the Blair/Brown Labour Government. To their credit, both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have steadfastly opposed this controversial UK-US Extradition Treaty and they have pledged, in their published Coalition Agreement, to modify it.
A new study by U.S. researchers raises questions about the investigation into the sinking of a South Korean navy ship. International investigators blamed a North Korean torpedo, raising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Researchers J.J. Suh and Seung-Hun Lee say the South Korean Joint Investigation Group made a weak case when it concluded that North Korea was responsible for sinking the Cheonan.
Speaking in Tokyo Friday, the two said the investigation was riddled with inconsistencies and cast “profound doubt” on the integrity of the investigation. “The only conclusion one can draw on the basis of the evidence is that there was no outside explosion,” Suh said. “The JIG completely failed to produce evidence that backs up its claims that there was an outside explosion.”
Suh is an associate professor in international relations at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, where he runs the Korean studies program.
International investigators said in May that an external explosion caused the South Korean ship to sink last March, killing 46 sailors. The report said a North Korean-made torpedo caused the explosion.
Suh and Lee [say] the cracked portion of the bottom of the ship does not show the signs of a large shock that are usually associated with outside explosions. They add that all the ship’s internal parts remained intact and few fragments were recovered outside the ship.
“Almost all parts and fragments should’ve been recovered within about three to six meters within where the torpedo part was discovered,” Lee says, “The fact that only the propeller and the propulsion part was discovered doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Lee is a professor of physics at the University of Virginia in the United States. Lee also points to a blue mark on a fragment of the torpedo to question the validity of the study. South Korean scientists say that part of the torpedo was marked “number one” in Korean, with a blue marker.
Suh and Lee say the writing would not have survived the intense heat of an explosion. “This can not be taken as evidence. Because any Korean, North and South, can write this mark,” Suh said. “Also, it does not make sense that this blue ink mark could survive so freshly when the paint all around was all burned at the explosion.”
Both researchers say their findings do not prove that North Korea did not sink the Cheonan. But they say it is irresponsible for the South Korean government to reach its conclusions based on an inconclusive study.
They are calling for a new international investigation to re-examine the Cheonan’s sinking. They also want the United Nations Security Council to pressure the South Korean government and request an “objective and scientific” report before the council deliberates on the incident.
HIGH-powered spy microphones on street lampposts are being used by snooping council officials to listen in on private conversations.
A network of new “intelligent” listening devices which can monitor discussions has been deployed on Britain’s streets for the first time.
The so-called Sigard system has been tested in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Coventry. The microphones, connected to CCTV cameras, can recognise aggressive “trigger” words and sounds, then automatically direct cameras to zoom in on the speakers.
Manufacturers denied the system is used to record conversations. It analyses sound patterns to pick out angry or distressed voices. But the makers would not pledge that in the future Sigard would not be used to record whole sections of speech.
Privacy campaigners condemned the surveillance system, attacking it as another erosion of personal freedom.
News of the use of Sigard comes to light just days after around 200 cameras with number plate recognition software in Birmingham were mothballed when it emerged that they were being targeted at the city’s Asian districts.
Corinna Ferguson, a lawyer for human rights group Liberty, criticised Sigard. She said:
“Britain has been far too complacent about the growth of CCTV without any proper public debate or legal safeguards. With cameras linked to microphones and number-plate databases, everyone can be treated as a suspect.
“The Birmingham fiasco demonstrates the destructive power of snooping on whole communities who could otherwise be pulling together to fight crime and terrorism.”
Dylan Sharpe, from campaigners Big Brother Watch, said:
“There can be no justification for giving councils or the police the capability to listen in on private conversations. There is enormous potential for abuse, or a misheard word, causing unnecessary harm with this sort of intrusive and overbearing surveillance.”
The Dutch inventors of the Sigard technology say the system is designed to help combat violent or anti-social behaviour by detecting threatening language. Alerts can then be sent to police allowing them to stop minor problems flaring up into full-scale violence.
The microphones can listen in on conversations up to 100 yards away. The cameras then record both sound and images.
Manufacturers say Sigard can distinguish between distress calls, threatening behaviour and general shouting. The system filters out background noise and focuses on suspect sounds.
Sigard systems are used widely in Holland, where 12 cities have fitted the microphones. They are also in use on buses and trains.
In Coventry, the CV One partnership, funded by the city council, tested Sigard for six months by installing seven in the city’s nightclub district. No-one from the organisation would comment on the trial’s success.
The new Government is reviewing the use of CCTV as it honours a pledge to defend civil liberties.