Algerian asylum seeker facing deportation

By Adam Morris, Edinburgh Evening News 8 March 2008

A FATHER-of-two from Edinburgh is facing deportation after being detained on suspicion of terrorism.

Algerian Bachir Mohammed, 45, who has lived in the Capital for six years, was stopped by police on his way to Northern Ireland for a short break. Mr Bachir, who is registered disabled after contracting polio as a child, was held in Stranraer under the Terrorism Act on February 17.

He has since been moved to Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire and was due to be flown to Algeria tomorrow, where he claims he faces certain death. However, he was granted an eleventh-hour reprieve yesterday.

His lawyers now hope he can be reunited with his wife Nacera and Edinburgh-born children, Hafsa, six months, and Safia, two, at their Leith Walk home.

Mr Bachir recently got a licence to drive a private cab. He has a permit to work in the UK, was married here and has a house, although he is classed as "officially without status".

He said he was set to apply for asylum under new Home Office guidelines when he was detained.

Speaking from his room in Dungavel, he said: "I went with a friend whose bathroom I had carried out some work on and we were about to get on to the ferry when we were stopped by police.

"I was called a terrorist and held there, and sworn and shouted at. They said my plan was to get into Northern Ireland then go to Dublin to commit terrorism.

"That is ridiculous. I didn't carry my passport because I had no intention of leaving the UK. I had all my Home Office papers and other documents which I have signed at the police station every month in Edinburgh."

Mr Bachir has written extensively about what he calls "atrocities and wrongdoings" in his homeland – which he says would lead to him being killed if he goes back. He said: "When people like me who have criticised the regime go back there, we can just disappear."

He said he was accused of having links with the Islamic Salvation Front through his work with the Algerian Community in Britain, but he categorically denied any links to terror organisations. "Yes, I am anti-war, but I hate death," he said. "I'm no terrorist, I know nothing of this."

Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, a charity which has been lobbying on Mr Bachir's behalf, said: "If he is returned to Algeria there is a real risk that he will be tortured or even executed."

The Border and Immigration Agency wouldn't comment on his specific case, but said foreign nationals would be sent home if they had no right to be here.