In a previous article, I wrote about Mustapha Labsi, an Algerian terror suspect, shuttled between various European prisons for the last nine years, who was deported from Slovakia last week “in clear violation of Slovakia’s international obligations,” as Amnesty International explained. Mustapha Labsi was held in Belmarsh until 2006, when he was extradited to France (and tried, convicted on charges related to terrorism, and then released on the basis of time served while awaiting extradition in the UK). He then ended up imprisoned in Slovakia, following an extradition request from the Algerian government, after he traveled there in search of his wife, who is Slovakian, and their young son. In the hope of shedding more light on Mustapha Labsi’s story, I reproduce below a personal account, written while he was held in Belmarsh pending deportation to France, which was published on the website of SACC (Scotland Against Criminalising Communities) in February 2005.
Mustapha Labsi’s story
I am an Algerian man, and my name is Mustapha. I am imprisoned in the British Guantánamo prison, Belmarsh, a high security prison. My prison number is GF6440. My story is close to fiction and I believe that a large number of people, in particular Britons, who will learn about my case, would doubt its credibility because it is strange. Too many people think that this country is ruled by law, but I would not be surprised if they are suspicious, as I would personally have doubted that this story has ever happened if I heard it before I experienced it myself, as I was hearing that this is a law-abiding and democratic country. I have met a number of inmates in the prison and they were extremely surprised when they heard what has happened to me. But the fact remains a fact, and it is up to the people to believe my story or reject it, but they have the right to know.
My case started when I was arrested on 13 January 2001, at six o’clock in the morning, when the door was smashed down and the British police stormed my home. My three-months pregnant wife and myself were there at the time; my wife is Slovakian. I was taken to Paddington [Green] police station and interrogated for one week. They had no evidence to accuse me with but they said, following the investigation, they found that I have links to a suspected terrorists group arrested in Germany and the evidence is my mobile number was found in one of the detainees’ notebook.
I was detained in Belmarsh for three months in connection to this allegation, then the case was dropped and I was told that I was being released. When I was about to approach the gate of Belmarsh prison, I was told that I was being rearrested for an extradition order to France. They said that you have no problems in this country. I was in Belmarsh prison for three years until all the prisoners in France have been released with whom I was allegedly connected. Yes, they have been released in France and I remained in Belmarsh without trial now for a continuing four years.
The courts were going to give me bail in 2003 because it was clear that I had already served all the time I would have to serve in France if I was extradited there. But the day before I would have been granted bail, I was told that the Home Secretary was making me subject to the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act, which detains foreign nationals without trial.
My problems were transformed, when all the alleged allegations were dropped and I still continued to be detained without trial in Belmarsh, British Guantánamo, during which the British government practiced an appalling and the most horrific methods to destroy me and my family, and indeed they succeeded.
My wife, who is not from this country, was shocked mentally and psychologically, which made her mad, and she wanders in the streets without care or protection.
She was first shocked when I was arrested and they brutally entered our home, which terrified her. The second shock, when all the prisoners in connection with the case were released after three months, I telephoned her and told her that I am on my way home, but I was arrested again at the gate of Belmarsh, as I stated above, so her pain got worse and she started to suffer from a severe hallucination.
During the period of pregnancy and while I was in prison, they practiced on my powerless wife what a genuine human being cannot do.
She went to the hospital to have an ultrasound for her unborn baby, but they refused and said your husband is a terrorist. Who told them that? The answer is the security service of this country. My wife insisted to have the ultrasound just to make sure, but she was told that the ultrasound shows that your unborn baby is dead and that is it, then the powerless and poor woman burst into tears and screamed.
She told me what had happened when I contacted her, and I asked her to use the rest of the money she has and go to another hospital to check again. She went to another hospital and she was told the unborn baby is alive and what she was told in the previous hospital was just bad games of the security service.
After our son was born, the security service continued their plan against my wife. She was threatened to be evicted from her home to the street and indeed she was evicted and was without food or money until six o’clock in the evening and by Allah’s will she was spotted by one of the Muslims, as she was wearing a Muslim costume and he saw her condition, he took her to his home. But the police did not stop and approached this good Muslim and threatened him with prosecution if he continued to support her, so this man accepted that and asked my wife to leave his home. She contacted one of her friends and then went to her home where she stayed for three months.
Because of my problems and this case, which is not clear, I drove my wife to the state of complete madness and she neglected our son. She started behaving strangely and then the police intervened and took the child from her. I have been trying for a year and a half to find out what is the fate of my son as he is being moved from one family to another.
My wife became a human ghost, as she is walking in the streets without conscience and sense. Her mother came here two months ago to take her to Slovakia but she could not contact her.
Her mother, my son’s grandmother, applied to have the custody of our son and maybe then his mother would go with him. She won the case last summer and the court decided that she could take our son to Slovakia, but my wife is still in the same situation in this country.
My mother, who is Algerian national, applied for a visa more than five times, to look after the child or take him back home, but every time her application was refused.
Anyway, I thank Almighty Allah, as I suffered a number of psychological deteriorations, but I always get help from Allah not to terminate and take my life. Due to the stress and pressure I developed stomach ulcer and also anal bleed when I use the toilet and normally lose about one and half litres of blood every week.
I wonder, what this country wants from me? What is the wrong thing I did in this country or abroad to deserve this treatment?
Let me be honest with you, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Home Secretary hate Muslims so much as there is no other explanation to their actions.
They violated all the laws and destroyed the human principles with their lies; such as, the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction lie.
Their game is clear and will destroy the people because of their ignorance and also the control of media concepts of provocation, which grew fear of Muslims in the hearts of their people. Every day they claim that they arrested new terror suspects but it turns up to be nothing.
There is currently no case connected to terrorism in courts despite the fact that more that one thousand Muslims have been arrested and detained. They lock up people and release others and if they do not like someone they would detain him under 2001 terrorism law without evidence, public trial or lawyers.
I thought that the people of this country understand the decisions of politicians and their practices but the fact is that what I saw is different, because the people are just concerned about their lives and they have nothing to do with general and political decisions.
What I could say now!
I did not dream of anything except that I wanted to live with a wife and children happily in a quiet home away from any troubles.
Finally, I say as every Muslim would say when injustice is imposed on him and he cannot find a supporter from earth: “We are created by God and we will return to Him.”
Signed: Mustapha Labsi
As SACC noted, after writing this, Mustapha re-established contact with his wife and son, but five years later, he is alone in Algeria, with no reports, as yet, about the conditions in which he is held. For an updated action page for Mustapha Labsi, please visit the SACC website.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and currently on tour in the UK), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
For other articles dealing with Belmarsh, control orders, deportation bail, deportations and extraditions, see Deals with dictators undermined by British request for return of five Guantánamo detainees (August 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: the troubling tale of Tunisian Belmarsh detainee Hedi Boudhiba, extradited, cleared and abandoned in Spain (August 2007), Guantánamo as house arrest: Britain’s law lords capitulate on control orders (November 2007), The Guantánamo Britons and Spain’s dubious extradition request (December 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: control orders renewed, as one suspect is freed (February 2008), Spanish drop “inhuman” extradition request for Guantánamo Britons (March 2008), UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices (March 2008), Repatriation as Russian Roulette: Will the Two Algerians Freed from Guantánamo Be Treated Fairly? (July 2008), Abu Qatada: Law Lords and Government Endorse Torture (February 2009), Ex-Guantánamo prisoner refused entry into UK, held in deportation centre (February 2009), Home Secretary ignores Court decision, kidnaps bailed men and imprisons them in Belmarsh (February 2009), Britain’s insane secret terror evidence (March 2009), Torture taints all our lives (published in the Guardian’s Comment is free), Britain’s Guantánamo: Calling For An End To Secret Evidence, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (1) Detainee Y, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (2) Detainee BB, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (3) Detainee U, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (4) Hussain Al-Samamara, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (5) Detainee Z, Britain’s Guantánamo: Fact or Fiction? and URGENT APPEAL on British terror laws: Get your MP to support Diane Abbott’s Early Day Motion on the use of secret evidence (all April 2009), and Taking liberties with our justice system and Death in Libya, betrayal in the West (both for the Guardian), Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence And Control Orders (June 2009), Miliband Shows Leadership, Reveals Nothing About Torture To Parliamentary Committee (June 2009), Britain’s Torture Troubles: What Tony Blair Knew (June 2009), Seven years of madness: the harrowing tale of Mahmoud Abu Rideh and Britain’s anti-terror laws, Would you be able to cope?: Letters by the children of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh, Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK (all June 2009), Testing control orders and Dismantle the secret state (for the Guardian), UK government issues travel document to control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh after horrific suicide attempt (July 2009), Secret evidence in the case of the North West 10 “terror suspects” (August 2009), Letting go of control orders (for the Guardian, September 2009), Another Blow To Britain’s Crumbling Control Order Regime (September 2009), UK Judge Approves Use of Secret Evidence in Guantánamo Case (November 2009), Calling Time On The Use Of Secret Evidence In The UK (December 2009), Compensation for control orders is a distraction (for the Guardian, January 2010), Control Orders Take Another Blow: Libyan Cartoonist Freed (Detainee DD) (January 2010), Control Orders: Solicitors’ Evidence before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, February 3, 2010 and Control Orders: Special Advocates’ Evidence before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, February 3, 2010 (both February 2010), Will Parliament Rid Us of the Cruel and Unjust Control Order Regime? (February 2010), Don’t renew control orders, CAMPACC, JUSTICE and the Joint Committee on Human Rights tell MPs (February 2010), Fahad Hashmi and Terrorist Hysteria in US Courts (April 2010).
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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