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.

View the open letter at: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/rights-groups-issue-open-letter-upcoming-nyc-trial-syed-fahad-hashmi-and-sev

Rights Groups Issue Open Letter on Upcoming NYC Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Severe Special Administrative Measures

Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

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.

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Vigil in New York for Fahad Hashmi and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on January 18 2010

Vigil in New York for Fahad Hashmi and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on January 18 2010

Vigil held for release of Dr Aafia & others–>The Nation

The way things are going in USA courts, it seems Aafia is not going to get a fair trial. The real issue of her relationship with Al-Qaeda will not be addressed because FBI doesn’t have any evidence and the charges put on her are real baseless. Anyone with even minor sense of justice can see the shallowness of the fabricated evidence.

She is charged of snatching a weapon and trying to shoot American soldiers .The real great thing is that in the process she herself got shot.

This is all bullshit and ridiculous. Is American army an army of eunuchs? A weak woman snatches a gun and tries to shoot them?

There is still no clue about the 2 missing children of Aafia.

It’s also interesting that even after so many years (She was abducted in 2003 from Pakistan by USA and Pakistani agencies which was also reported at that time in local and international media) FBI has come up with such a lame case and even in that they didn’t have enough evidence to connect her with Al-Qaida or terrorist activities so this question was put aside by the court.

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Vigil held for release of Dr Aafia & others

The Nation

Source : http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Islamabad/20-Jan-2010/Vigil-held-for-release-of-Dr-Aafia–others

ISLAMABAD – A number of citizens Tuesday protested in front of the Parliament by lighting candles, protesting the illegal abduction and detainment of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and other missing persons in United States prisons.
Relatives of the missing persons, civil society activists along with students, teachers, doctors, journalists, professionals, and representatives of human rights organisations were present at the occasion. Dr. Atia Anayatullah (PML-QA), Senator Talha Mehmood and Syed Bilal President Jamaat-e- Islami were also present at the occasion.
Over 300 people lit candles to show solidarity against the abduction of Dr. Aafia. They wore red scarves and bands as a sign of emergency and raised slogans against her detention.
Protests and Candle-lit vigils were planned in various countries in support of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The start of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui trial had been declared “Free Dr Aafia Siddiqui Day” across the U.S., UK, Pakistan, Australia, Spain, Qatar, Turkey, and the Middle East. In Pakistan, peaceful vigils were held in Karachi and Lahore press clubs and Islamabad along with other international venues at the same time.
Participants at the occasion vehemently condemned her detention and appealed for efforts to secure her immediate release. “Dr Aafia is a daughter of Pakistan and her return to Pakistan is a very vital issue”, they noted.
They said that the Government must take immediate steps for safe recovery of all the missing persons including Dr. Aafia. They said that after taking charge in January 2009, American President Barack Obama said that he would work for protecting human rights, and closure of Guantanamo prison was the proof of his statement.
In accordance with the said statement of the American President, they continued that American government must release Dr. Aafia immediately.
While talking to TheNation, Chairperson Defence of Human Rights in Pakistan (DHRP) Amina Janjua, who is the wife of one of the missing persons Masood Janjua, said that Dr. Aafia went missing in 2003.”She had spent many years in pain and miseries, and we are here to show solidity against her abduction and pain”, she added.