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Interview with a Long Lartin Detainee

First published on cageprisoners

My name is Hussain Al-Samamra. I am a Palestinian born in Jordan on 15th August 1975. I am currently in a British prison, awaiting deportation to Jordan, because I am allegedly a "threat" to the U.K's national security. This is my story of how I was tortured in Jordan then sought political asylum in the UK only to face deportation back to Jordan through the kangaroo SIAC court system. I will describe how the British Government leant on the Jordanian Authorities to "want" me for terrorism after the latter said that I was not wanted for terrorism.

As a young Palestinian man I was imprisoned from 1997 to 1999 in Al Juweida prison in Amman, Jordan, as a political prisoner condemned by a military court. For the first two months of my detention I was subjected to brutal torture at the hands of Jordanian Intelligence officials.

I was handcuffed behind my back, then hung off a gate from my wrists for 3-4 hours at a time. I saw a fellow inmate permanently lose the use of his arms and shoulders after being hung like this for three continuous days. I was stripped naked and beaten on the soles of my feet and other sensitive parts of my body with electricity cables. I was deprived of sleep for 3 days at a time. Threats of death were made to me and members of my family.

On 11th May 2001, I came to the UK and claimed political asylum. I settled in Birmingham and worked legally in a stationary warehouse. In early 2004, I was arrested by Anti-Terrorist police at my workplace. After 5 days in custody I was released without charge and all my seized possessions were returned to me. I went back to work.

On Friday 14th July 2006 PC David Harman from Steelhouse Lane police station in Birmingham phoned me and asked me to come into the police station to sign a form about an earlier crime I had reported to them. I told him that I was with my wife who was giving birth to our first child as PC Harman told me to come in on Monday 17th July 2006. I left my wife and baby daughter in hospital; and went to Steelhouse Lane police station. PC Harman had told me that he only needed me for 5-10 minutes. When I reached there 5 police officers in riot gear arrested me.

The next day I was brought to prison pending deportation. I did not touch my first baby daughter for one year because that is how long the Home Office purposely took to clear my family for prison visits. Maybe they thought my newborn daughter was also a threat to UK national security?

At first the Home Office said that I was to be deported because they said I was linked to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's group in Iraq. Then they withdrew this allegation before the SIAC (Special Immigration Appeals Commission) Court.

Then they said I was wanted by Jordan for terrorism offences. But when Jordan said that I was not wanted for terrorism offences the British Government attempted to bully Jordan into wanting me for terrorism.

In an email dated 03 April 2007, Foreign Office officials asked Pat Phillips at the British embassy in Amman, Jordan; "to explain to the Jordan Government why we think Samara (sic) is a terrorist... You would then ask the Jordanian authorities to reply... Their reply – based on the knowledge that he is a terrorist suspect in the UK – would carry weight in court..."

Shortly before my SIAC court hearing in October 2007 I was visited in prison by Rachel McDonald, an Immigration officer from the Home Office, in relation to my asylum application. She assured me that everything I told her was in the strictest confidence, that it had nothing to do with the SIAC court, that it would remain secret and not be shared with Jordan. In my SIAC court hearing of ... October 2007, not only did I see Rachel McDonald sitting in the court room but I also learnt that the Home Office had sent a copy of my asylum file to Jordan, thereby actively urging Jordanian authorities to torture me if I ever return there.

Britain is supposed to have a fair justice system that is envied by countries all over the world. But what happened in my SIAC kangaroo court hearing would shame even the Jordanian military courts. The Home Office stated that two incriminating CDs allegedly found in a 'rack' in my house by police formed a basis of the cases against me. I denied that these CDs were in my house. When my barrister pointed out that there was no photograph taken by the police of this 'rack' and no witness statement from the police officer who claimed to have found them, the judge (Mr Justice Mitting) said that he 'had no reason to doubt the good faith...' of the police.

The SIAC court proceedings are in themselves a complete farce. I was not allowed to see the ‘closed evidence’ against me, let alone challenge it. Mr Justice Mitting had already made up his mind based on the 'closed evidence', so when my barrister was presenting my case, Mitting was sitting there sighing as if he was fed up and uninterested. At the same time, Anthony Layden (the Foreign Office official giving evidence on behalf of the British government) was sitting there smirking because he already knew the outcome. On 02 November 2007 the SIAC court ruled, surprise surprise, that it would not be inhumane to deport me back to Jordan (to be tortured on the basis of information provided by the British Government).

So this is the system of 'justice' and 'democracy' that Britain wants to impose in Iraq, Pakistan and other Muslim countries? That you lock up a man for years without trial, you prevent his family from meeting him for a whole year, you don't allow him to see or challenge secret evidence against him then you sit there sighing and smirking whilst he tries to defend himself?

If I am a terrorist, put me on trial. If I am found guilty, punish me. If not, then allow me to go back to my family.

Britain's system of Justice is worse than Jordan's because at least in Jordan they don't hide their injustice behind farcical court proceedings and difficult vocabulary. At least the Jordanians are not snakes.

Mr Hussain Al-Samamra

Write to Hussain

    Hussain Al Samamra MN4010
    HMP Long Lartin
    South Littleton
    WR11 8TZ