Amnesty International has issued an action alert for "Detainee X", an Algerian asylum-seeker deported from the UK on 6 June, now being held incommunicado in Algeria
Update 21 June 2007. Detainee X has now been released. AI says that no further action is necessary.
Detainee "X" released
Action Alert from Amnesty International
PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 28/012/2007
An Algerian asylum-seeker, known only as "X" for legal reasons, was deported to Algeria from the United Kingdom (UK) on 6 June. Since then he has been held incommunicado, and Amnesty International fears that he is in the custody of the Department for Information and Security (Departement du renseignement et de la securite, DRS), where he is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
A lawyer and two representatives from the UK Embassy in Algeria were waiting for him when he landed at the airport in the capital, Algiers. He was reportedly able to pick up his luggage, but has not been seen or heard from since.
It is assumed that he was arrested by the DRS, a branch of Algerian military intelligence which specializes in interrogating people thought to possess information about terrorist activities. "X" is likely to be detained in a military barracks in Algiers, part of which is used as a secret detention centre, where DRS detainees are usually held incommunicado. Amnesty International has received persistent reports of torture and other ill-treatment of people held incommunicado by the DRS.
"X" arrived in the UK in 1994 and later applied for asylum. In 2002 he was granted indefinite leave to remain. In January 2003, he was arrested on terrorism-related charges. However, his trial later collapsed and he was eventually acquitted of all charges. In September 2005, "X" was rearrested under immigration powers and detained pending deportation to Algeria on "national security" grounds on the basis of secret information, including intelligence material, never disclosed to him or his lawyers of choice. In January 2006, in desperation at the conditions of his protracted detention in a high-security prison in the UK, "X" decided to withdraw his appeal against his deportation to Algeria.
"X" reportedly suffers from depression, and was receiving medical attention while in the UK. It is not known whether he now has any access to medical assistance.
Anyone suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, or who is believed to possess information about terrorist activities in Algeria or abroad, faces a real risk of secret detention and torture in Algeria. Amnesty International has received dozens of reports of detainees treated in this way, among them people who had returned to Algeria from overseas, either voluntarily or at the hands of foreign governments.
Under Article 51 of the Algerian Criminal Procedures Code, detainees suspected of "terrorist or subversive acts" may be held without charge for a maximum of 12 days. The arresting authorities must immediately give them the opportunity to communicate with their families and to receive visits from them. In addition, any detention beyond four days has to be authorized in writing by the public prosecutor.