Terror arrests on campus – what happened?

Why did two members of the University of Nottingham - a postgraduate student and a member of staff - get arrested under the Terrorism Act last summer? What happened then? Here, we lay out a timeline of events for you. Enjoy!

Politics - Posted on Friday, January 9, 2009 4:11 - 1 Comment

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Background

Originally from Algeria, Hicham Yezza has studied, worked and lived in Nottingham for the past thirteen years. A popular figure on campus as a peace campaigner and political activist, he has served as an elected member of the Students’ Union Executive, the International Students Bureau, the University Senate and the Nottingham Peace Movement. He was also the editor of the Voice magazine and, for the past five years, has been the editor of Ceasefire Magazine.

Rizwaan Sabir is an MA student in International Relations. He was was born in Nottingham and he studied for his undergraduate degree in Manchester. Rizwaan has been actively involved in politics, including campaigning work, writing, and speaking.

Timeline

January 2008
MA Politics student Rizwaan Sabir, a friend of Hicham’s, downloads the Al-Qaeda training manual from the official website of the US department of Justice. This is for the purposes of his dissertation on radical Islamism, which is also the research theme of his upcoming PhD. The article is sent to Hicham Yezza, Principal Administrator of the School of Modern Languages (also a University of Nottingham Alumnus), who was assisting him with drafting his PhD proposal. Rizwaan regularly kept Hicham up to date on research materials he was consulting.

The manual remains on Hicham’s office computer, clearly named and in a public folder on his machine.

May 14th
Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza are arrested by police on campus under the Terrorism Act 2000. A member of University staff has spotted a document called the ‘Al-Qaeda training manual’ on Hicham’s computer, and brought this to the attention of senior University management. The decision has been made to contact the police, who show up within four hours of the document being found. No attempts have yet been made to ask Hicham about the document.

May 14th- 20th
Both men are repeatedly questioned. The subjects covered range from their politics, their involvement in Ceasefire, their religion, beliefs, and their love lives. Hicham’s flatemate and Rizwaan’s family are unceremoniously expelled from their homes for days whilst police search them. Hicham’s friends are interrogated by the police and his property (notably his Family Guy DVD collection) is seized.

May 20th
Rizwaan Sabir and Hicham Yezza are released without charge. Having been incarcerated for six days neither men have any charges brought against them. Growing anger on campus and beyond is expressed at the perceived incompetence of the police. Hicham Yezza is immediately re-arrested for alleged irregularities with his immigration status and kept in custody.

May 22nd
After declaring his willingness to fight any charges in court, Hicham is instead served with an emergency deportation order and is taken to an Immigration Removal Centre. An emergency campaign is set up by his friends and colleagues in the University of Nottingham and across the UK to protest the removal order. Within days newswires begin reporting news of the fiasco across Britain and the rest of the world.

May 28th
The largest-ever demonstration on the Nottingham University campus is held in support of Hicham, to protest against his and Rizwaan’s treatment and against the behaviour of the University, the Police and the Home Office throughout the affair.

Staff, students and community members gather on campus to hear lecturers deliver public readings of the Al-Qaeda manual. Alan Simpson, the Nottingham South MP delivers a speech strongly condemning the University’s actions.

The University issues several statements which defend their actions. They refrain from acknowledging Hicham’s contributions to the University and local community over the past decade. This raises further concern amongst the student, staff and alumni communities, in particular international students and members of the University’s Islamic community. As a result of the growing discontent across campus, a letter by the VC is sent to the Home Office to ask for “fair and due process” but it is sent too late and is too weak in tone to have any impact.

May 30th
A judicial appeal that had been launched by Hicham’s legal team to stop the deportation is successful in obtaining a High Court injunction preventing the deportation. Hundreds of letters and petitions protesting at Hicham’s treatment are sent. A website is set up to promote the campaign and it quickly clocks up more than 60.000 unique visitors. Facebook groups are set up which quickly attract several thousand members.

June 16th
After 33 days of detention, being moved a dozen times between 5 different locations across the country, Hicham’s application to be released on bail is successful despite strong opposition from the Home Office. He is released the same day and is welcomed by supporters on his return.

August 18th
An article by Hicham about his ordeal is published in both the print and online editions of The Guardian. The response is overwhelmingly positive and the campaign receives a significant boost as a result.

Sep 3rd
Hicham attends court for a second hearing.

Sep 21st
Hicham addresses a meeting at the Labour Conference alongside Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, Alan Simpson and other high profile speakers. His contribution is widely commended and creates an immediate impact.

Sep 22nd
The Free Hich campaign launches a programme of events to raise awareness of Hicham’s situation and to step up the fundraising efforts to allow Hicham to fight his case. The programme includes lectures, roundtables, gigs, sporting tournaments and artistic exhibitions. A number of high-profile politicians, artists and public figures have already agreed to attend and lend their support. See the back cover for more details.

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An A-Z of theory: Althusser (part II) – Ceasefire Magazine
Feb 25, 2011 6:59

[…] empirically beyond question. Keep in mind for instance the coverage of the student protests and the actions of Nottingham University as an adjunct of the security […]

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