Rights Groups Issue Open Letter on Upcoming NYC Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Severe Special Admini
The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Council of American Islamic Relations-New York, and Amnesty International released an open letter expressing concern over Fahad Hashmi’s upcoming trial. The letter urges the Attorney General, Eric Holder to both review and revise Department of Justice regulations which govern the implementation of Special Administrative Measures. SAMs can be imposed on inmates past 120 days when the Department of Justice deems it reasonably necessary “because there is a substantial risk that an inmates communication or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons or substantial property would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.” The open letter expresses concern over whether Fahad has even been informed of the reasons for the imposition of the SAMSs.
Rights Groups Issue Open Letter on Upcoming NYC Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Severe Special Administrative Measures
April 23, 2010, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International USA, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY released an open letter today expressing their serious concerns about the trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi, set to begin on April 28. The human rights organizations discuss Mr. Hashmi’s severe conditions of confinement over the last three years in which he has awaited trial, their impact on his mental health, and his ability to effectively participate in his own defense.
The material support charges against Mr. Hashmi are based on the allegation that he allowed an acquaintance, Junaid Babar, to use his cell phone and to stay with him at his apartment in London where he was pursuing a Master’s degree. According to Mr. Hashmi’s indictment, Babar had waterproof socks and rain ponchos in his luggage that he later delivered to al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. Mr. Hashmi denies all charges against him.
In their letter, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International USA, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY urge the Attorney General to review and revise the Department of Justice regulations governing the imposition of severe Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) to ensure that all prisoners are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.
Two days ago, CCR publicly condemned the government’s attempt to frighten the jury in Mr. Hashmi’s case, calling the U.S. Attorney’s motion for the jurors to be anonymous and kept under extra security because of the attention and political activism these issues have drawn to the case “a clear attempt to influence the jury by creating a sense of fear for their safety and to paint Mr. Hashmi as already guilty.”
Open Letter from Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY on the upcoming trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and the severe Special Administrative Measures to which he is subjected :
On April 28, Syed Fahad Hashmi is scheduled to be tried in the Southern District of New York on charges of material support for terrorism. Mr. Hashmi has been held in pretrial detention at the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, pursuant to Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, for almost three years now. These measures have severely limited his ability to communicate with the outside world and effectively placed him in solitary confinement, although he has not been convicted of any crime.
Mr. Hashmi is 30 years old, was raised in Queens and attended Brooklyn College before moving to London to obtain a Master’s degree in political science. Since his extradition to the United States in May 2007, he has been imprisoned alone in a cell and not permitted to speak, worship or otherwise communicate with any other prisoners. He is not permitted any visitors or outside communications, except for his attorneys and limited visits from immediate family. He is not allowed any physical human contact, even from his closest family members. Mr. Hashmi is allowed one hour per day of physical exercise, which must be taken alone, in a small cage inside the prison. He is not permitted access to any natural air or sunlight. Moreover, Mr. Hashmi is subjected to a strip-search before his one hour per day of exercise. Due to the resulting humiliation he experiences, he has chosen to forego this hour outside of his cell altogether.
In addition, Mr. Hashmi is subjected to constant surveillance, not only when he is alone in his cell but also when he showers, uses the toilet, or meets with an attorney or family member. He may not communicate with any members of the media, and he is forbidden from listening to a television or radio news program or reading a timely newspaper.
Mr. Hashmi’s family, friends and attorneys are extremely concerned that his mental health is rapidly deteriorating under these extreme conditions. It is well-documented that solitary confinement can have severely detrimental effects on a prisoner’s mental health. It may also affect his ability to effectively participate in his trial and to present his defense.
Muslim community groups are increasingly expressing concern about these prison conditions, as they seem to be imposed disproportionately on Muslims suspected of connections with terrorism.
SAMs may be imposed on a particular inmate, according to the Department of Justice’s regulations, when such measures are “reasonably necessary to prevent disclosure of classified information,” or when “reasonably necessary to protect persons against the risk of death or serious bodily injury.” To be extended beyond the initial 120-day period, the Attorney General or federal law enforcement must demonstrate that such measures are reasonably necessary “because there is a substantial risk that an inmate’s communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons, or substantial damage to property that would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.”
The material support charges against Mr. Hashmi are based on the allegation that he allowed an acquaintance, Junaid Babar, to use his cell phone and to stay with him at his apartment in London where he was pursuing a Master’s degree. According to Mr. Hashmi’s indictment, Babar had waterproof socks and rain ponchos in his luggage that he later delivered to al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. Mr. Hashmi denies all charges against him. These charges will be the subject of his trial.
We are concerned that Mr. Hashmi has not been informed of the reasons for the imposition of SAMs. We are also concerned that Mr. Hashmi is being held under conditions that are not consistent with international standards for humane treatment. Due to their likely impact on his mental health, we are further concerned that these conditions will prejudice his ability to assist in his own defense.
The Department of Justice stated last year that 46 inmates around the country were being confined pursuant to SAMs. Although we recognize that the department has a legitimate interest in protecting classified information that may harm national security and in protecting the public against acts of terrorism, we are very concerned that inmates held pursuant to such measures are not being given an adequate opportunity to defend against the imposition of SAMs in their cases.
We urge the Attorney General to review and revise the agency’s regulations governing the imposition of SAMs to ensure that all prisoners regardless of their security status are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.
Amnesty International USA
Center for Constitutional Rights
Council on American Islamic Relations – New York
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
The message is sent on Free Fahad Facebook group.
It’s a real shame for USA justice system that every now and then we see people becoming victims of state run security agencies and the justice system in USA fails to protect them.
We have seen a shameful example of Dr. Aafia Siddiqi who is still having terrible time in USA and also an old man with the name Nayyar Zaidi is going through a mental torture because of the USA system of justice.
We in Pakistan and other third world countries are used to of similar but a country which claims to be the most progressive civilization and a symbol of democracy should not have such things in their society.
It is quiet clear that Nayyar Zaidi was trapped by USA security agencies in a shamefully false case and the victim’s family is getting not much help from the civil society of the world.
Therefore we appeal to the civil society of the world to do what ever they can to provide justice to an old man is who is facing may be the toughest time of his life.
Below is the message on Facebook by Nayyar’s family:
Muhammad Tariq Khan sent a message to the members of Nayyar Zaidi is a Journalist Not A Criminal, Support Nayyar Zaidi.
Subject: The Family Request .. Please Take Action ..
Regarding Nayyar Zaidi Case in a recent email from Zaidi family the family expressed their sorrow over the sad death news of Mr. Muhammad Tariq Khan’s brother in-law’s, Zaidi family conveyed their condolences to Mr. Khan and his family and pray Allah for mercy and blessing on deceased soul.
Zaid family also expressed their gratitude for Mr. Khan and the whole group for their unconditional support to Mr. Zaidi and his family in this trying time, Mr. Zaidi is still suffering in jail for a crime he never committed. According to the update his pre-trial hearing is this Wednesday October 7, 2009, when the judge will determine whether there is sufficient evidence for against Mr. Zaidi to go to trial by jury, and then date can be set for further hearing, and if the judge decides there is not enough evidence, then the whole case will be dismissed and he will be set free.
Mr. Zaidi also authorized group to send the addresses of Attorney General Eric Holder, to the members, supporters, journalists and journalist organizations in order to raise awareness about his case.
The following is the address and email address of the US Attorney General
The Attorney General of the United States of America
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20530
Attention: US Attorney General–
Attn; Eric Holder
Fax: +1 202-307-6777
The family recommended that everyone who sympathizes with Mr. Zaidi and is looking for the justice in his case should write to the US Attorney General on above address, email and fax request him to hold impartial and immediate investigation in this case.
Organizations such as PFUJ, Committee for Protection of Journalists, Local Press Clubs, National and International Journalist Organizations and individual journalist should write to him asking him to investigate this case, remember we are not demanding the release but impartial investigation into the circumstance that lead to Mr. Zaidi arrest and the way his case is being handled.
The family regretted the fact that President Zardari was recently in Washington and the Ambassador Haqqani was with him all along, who himself is a veteran journalist, but they never approached any of the family members and never raised Zaidi case on any level with US officials
The members, journalists and journalist organizations should also keep writing to Haqqani and Zardari to remind them of their obligations.
The Zaidi family, this trying time, is frustrated but their faith in Allah and religion keeps them going, they want to thank all members and are requesting everyone to please pray for October 7th outcome in favour of Mr. Zaidi.
It’s really sad that a senior Pakistani analyst and journalist is under arrest on FBI made up charges and Pakistan government especially and journalist communities in general aren’t doing anything for him.
Please join the cause of supporting Nayyar Zaidi on FaceBook:
Mr. Zaidi has been living in Virginia, Washington DC for more than 20 years now. He fathers 5 kids and is of 65 years of age. Mr. Zaidi has worked in media for around 40 years, his filings for the Jang Group and later The News cover a solid 25 year span.
Mr. Zaidi ran into trouble with authorities in USA for first time for breaking the news that CIA had supplied Heroin manufacturing factories to Afghan War Lords in order to generate funds for War against USSR.
He had further encounters with FBI in 1995 & then was visited by Feds (FBI) in 2003 (after 9/11), and was asked to “become an informant”, which he refused. FBI then tried to frame him on terrorist related Charges, his phone records were accessed and his communication was monitored, CNN’s Jonathan Mann report this story in his show INSIGHT WITH JONATHAN MANN and had broadcasted interview of Mr. Zaidi in 2003.
Finally they trapped him by using an agent who communicated with Mr. Zaidi on internet pretending to be mother of a 13 year old girl interested in having sex with an older man, driven by his journalistic instincts to find out the truth, Mr. Zaidi agreed to meet the mother of this “minor” in an open public place in a parking lot in Ohio State. However, she never showed up on the appointed place and time, as Zaidi drew out of the parking lot, some 50 FBI agents blocked his car in a Terry Style Stop without any legal warrants against him, asked him to step out of his car and arrested him for “Attempt to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce an individual who had not attained the age of 18, that is a 13 years old girl to engage in illegal sexual activity with him”.
However, the truth is that there was no minor, Mr. Zaidi never met any girl, or woman or anyone at all in person, he only communicated on internet and phone with a 40 year old woman who claimed to be the mother of 13 year old girl, and this woman was in fact not even a woman, but a male FBI agent who, according to FBI claim, used some gadget/device to change his male voice to that of a female of telephone while talking to Mr. Zaidi, he is the one who tried to persuade, induce, entice or seduce Mr. Zaidi to have sex with a 13 year old (who never existed).
Mr. Zaidi wanted to investigate him/her and during communication refused to meet the minor and refused to meet the so called Mother in private and asked her to come to a public place if she were REAL.
In fact FBI admits in their own unsigned indictment in the court that they persuaded Zaidi, and told him that the minor girl (who never existed) has been persuaded by the Mother (FBI agent) and Mother wants her daughter to have sex with him thus the case should be against agents who fabricated the whole thing and themselves admit of persuading a minor (who never existed) into a sexual contact with an adult male (which never happened).
Though his arrest was made in a dramatic style, it was in clear violation of local state and federals laws.
First and foremost Mr. Zaidi was arrested illegally rather kidnapped without any probable cause being established for warrants to be issued, without any warrants obtained for his arrest on March 20, 2008, and without serving him with any warrants at the time of his arrest.
He was kept in custody for over two days till March 23, 2008 without producing any warrant or presenting him before any judge. On March 23, 2008 a notice was issued to produce him before the court but no warrants made available, when he was produced before the Court the Indictment papers were unsigned and no official stated under oath the probable cause for arrest as required by the Law.
The Prosecution did not go to a grand jury as required by Fifth Amendment, whereby its clearly states that “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on presentation or indictment of a grand jury”. Thus the most Basic right was violated.
Since his arrest almost a year and half, the case has progressed very little, during this period a lawyer provided by Govt. and 3 hired by the family were all pressurized/influenced by US Intel agencies, finally Mr. Zaidi decided to represent himself in the court. Although in US justice system it works against the defendant if he/she does not have a proper lawyer, however, Mr. Zaidi believes he has no other choice.
Upon his request to represent himself, judge referred him to a mental facility, for mental evaluation to ascertain if he could stand a trial and/or represent himself.
As per Law in USA the judge should ensure an earliest possible hearing, however, the maximum time period he may allow to keep someone in a mental facility is 4 months, yet the judge never called a hearing during 4 months time, and in a clear violation of the law he let him stay in for over 5 months and did not call a hearing even after the mandatory time had passed.
In such environment it is hard to believe that impartial justice will be done, especially when judge starts acting illegally, it is understood that defendant stands a little chance.
We believe that Mr. Zaidi is innocent until proven guilty, all we want is an impartial inquiry into the manner in which he was arrested, we want his trial to take place in transparent and efficient manner, we want him to be represented by able lawyers not under influence of US Govt. and we want evidence against him brought forward if any.
We Appeal to all Journalist bodies including various press clubs in Pakistan, PFUJ, REPORTER’S COMMITTEE FOR THE FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS AND JOURNALISTS SAN FRONTIER and all the International bodies of the journalists to take this matter up on merit.
We request the Govt. of Pakistan and Pakistan’s Ambassador in USA to take interest in this case and provide Zaidi with legal and financial help that may be required.
We know how the prisoners in the US custody are treated be it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo or in US Prisons, the US does not conform to any international law when it comes to frame someone and or the treatment of those detained.
Thus we must do our bit. It is another way of countering the media syntax and vocabulary that relentlessly projects “Pakistan” and “Pakistani” as a conjunction of things “bad, negative and hopeless” – a fact that I personally resent. By silence and navel-gazing or universally critiquing our own we publically forfeit national pride.
We firmly believe that Mr. Zaidi deserves sympathy and help in this trying time of his life from his fellow journalists and countrymen.
Read Nayyar Zaidi’s point of view:
It’s been more than 10 months since the dictator Musharraf destroyed the most important institution of judiciary using the state military power, supported well by the USA and other foreign powers not willing to give the Pakistani nation the right to live freely under the rule of law.
This Eid I know like all other Eids will bring happiness for muslims all over the world since they have gone through a month of blessings and prayers but with all due joys and festivities we must not forget the people who have suffered and still are suffering from the unjust policies of the governments run by dictators,feudals and corrupt mullahs, we must not forget people who have lost their loved ones in this “War Against Humanity”(so called war against terror) from both sides, we must not forget people who lost their right to exist and live freely and thus termed as missing persons(Recent example is Dr Aaafia and her children , one of them is recovered but God knows where are the other two and still Aafia is in US custody facing false charges and inhuman treatment), we must not forget the people who are displaced due to the fight going on in Bajur,Waziristan etc, we must not forget the people of Baluchistan who suffered during the times of the tyrant (Musharraf), we must not forget the poorsof our country who suffered most due to corruption and trickle down economy policy by Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz and still facing the sufferings because the current government is no different they are just he continuation of the previous one interms of policy, we must not forget the cause of justice and independence judiciary in Pakistan and above all we must not forget who we are(Pakistanis) and what it means?
By not forgetting I mean to help the people who suffered and still suffering by any means you can (Actions or Words or Even Prayers).
In all our happiness and festivities we must not forget the lesson which Allama Iqbal taught us:
MEIN TUM KO BATA HOON TAQDEER E UMAM KIA HAI
SHAMSHEER O SANA AWWAL TAOOS O RUBAB AAKHIR
May Allah give us light and keep our hopes alive and make us more committed for the great cause and ultimate dream.
Eid Mubarak In Advance.
United4Justice:Thank you Aitzaz Ahsan for listening to the civil society and lawyers who has fought a long battle for the cause of justice in Pakistan and taking your resignation back.
We need you as our leader in this cause.
Incidents like Sher Afgan a minor ones but the cause is much bigger than the Afgan type politicians who are part of the team which committed crimes like 12 May,killings of innocent people in wana and balauchistan,violating the constitution,betraying the country,illegan abductions,torture on the civil society,lawyers and media and the list is too big to mention SO WE NEED YOU TO BE THERE FOR US AND THIS COUNTRY.
Presidency behind attack on Afgan: Aitzaz
Asad Muhammad Khan
ISLAMABAD: SCBA President Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan while announcing to withdraw his resignation has said the Aiwan-e-Sadr is hatching conspiracy to divide and malign lawyers’ movement and manhandling of Dr Sher Afgan is a part of this plot.
He was addressing a press conference at his residence here Wednesday. He said the legal fraternity will not apologise over Afgan’s incident as the lawyers tried to secure and guard Dr Sher Afgan Niazi. It is the interim government of Punjab that should apologise. SCBA President Aitzaz Ahsan said that the non-violent movement of lawyers and civil society will continue. Aitzaz said that the nation could not recover from the trauma of May 12 and the violence has again hit Karachi. He said I ask where are the leaders of Muttahida Qaumi Movement? “They should come out and control the violence”, Aitzaz said. Aitzaz said that it is strange that no lawyer was involved in Arbab Ghulam Rahim’s case then why the lawyers were targeted at Karachi.
Replying to a question, Aitzaz Ahsan said that he will contest by-elections from constituency NA-55, if Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) issued him the ticket. He said that PPP and Asif Ali Zardari have taken bold steps but there is a hidden power that is intriguing against the democracy.
Online adds: Aitzaz said, “I think minus-one formula should be applied now and Pervez Musharraf is minus one in this formula. Country’s problems will remain unresolved unless President Musharraf quits. The force is working in the country which is out to sabotage the whole democratic process”, he underscored.
He said the character assassination campaign was started against the legal fraternity some time ago. It was being said that lawyers wanted clash, he added. “We accepted Bhurban accord despite the lawyers stance that 30 days were not needed to reinstate judges, Asif Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif, leaders of two major political parties signed this agreement and made the people its custodian. Soon after the signing of this accord, conspiracies started from Aiwan-e-Sadr. Proposal was given to constitute committee on it and they started talking about; package and two-thirds majority of parliament. But we made it clear two thirds majority was needed for President Musharraf rather than in judges’ case.
The conspiracies have not come to an end, he said adding release of deposed judges dealt a severe blow to Aiwan-e-Sadr. People rejected Musharraf on February 18 and slogans were raised in parliament against the president. Ministers took oath while wearing black bands, he maintained. Despite all this the presidency has not stopped from hatching conspiracies, he added.
Aitzaz Ahsan questioned if lawyers had attacked Dr Sher Afgan but who was behind manhandling of Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim. About Sher Afgan incident he told “I came to know about Sher Afgan incident on Tuesday evening through media. I rushed there even at the risk of my life. But no government functionary turned up. Police did not stop the demonstrators despite my request. I tried to talk through megaphone from balcony. Only 40 per cent lawyers were found present there and the remaining were some other people. I appealed to lawyers to disperse and they did so. But the other people remained there.
He further said “I asked the police officers present over there to call in more contingent of police but it was not done so. I asked police officers to call police van and bring it close to door so that Sher Afgan could be pulled out from there. But police did not do so. I asked the police officers to remove a plain clothed man but they told he was a policeman. I knew he was not policeman and was some terrorist. When I brought out Sher Afgan then police disappeared. When I took Afgan inside van, we came to know driver of the van was not there. People in plain clothes were found involved in the acts of sabotage. My friends and I tried to rescue Dr Sher Afgan even at the risk of our lives. But all happened under a planned conspiracy. People in plain clothes subjected Dr Afgan to violence”.
Lawyers wanted to strengthen parliament, he held. An individual and his cronies were doing harm to the country, he alleged. Why Dr Afgan was taken to Model Town police station and later to the Governor’s House. These are the questions and plots, which need to be exposed. Nation will see Bhurban declaration is implemented in letter and spirit, he said, adding count down has been started. Lawyers’ movement is meant for peaceful objectives and it will continue unless these objectives are achieved, he declared.