Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK


Mahmoud Abu RidehEarlier today, I published two articles about the suffering of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh and his family — “Seven years of madness: the harrowing tale of Mahmoud Abu Rideh and Britain’s anti-terror laws,” and “Would you be able to cope?: Letters by the children of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh” — as the Palestinian-born British resident, who has been imprisoned without charge or trial, or held under a control order (a form of house arrest) as a “terror suspect” for seven and a half years, on the basis of secret evidence, which has not been disclosed to him, sought permission in the High Court to leave the country, and to end his horrendous limbo in the UK, where he has suffered from severe mental health problems that have led to repeated attempts to commit suicide, and recently watched, impotently, as his wife gave up the long struggle and left the UK to live with relatives in Jordan, taking the children with her, even though both she and the children are British citizens.

I’m glad to report that Mr. Abu Rideh was successful in his application today, and that Amnesty International, which supported his case, has just announced that the Home Office has agreed to issue him with a travel document. As Amnesty explained, “Subject to the Home Office formally granting him the document, for which he has now applied, Mr. Abu Rideh will now be able to leave the UK and seek entry to another country.”

Amnesty’s press release continued: “Amnesty continues to call for Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be issued with a UN travel document, to which he should be entitled as a refugee. However in the interests of being able to leave the UK swiftly and attempt to be reunited with his family, Mr. Abu Rideh has agreed to apply for an inferior document that will allow him to leave the UK and enter another country.”

Counter-terrorism campaigner Sara Macneice added, “It is very welcome news that Mahmoud Abu Rideh will now be able to leave the UK and seek entry to a safe country, and will no longer be subjected to the repressive measures of his control order, which have driven him to utter desperation. I have spoken to Mr. Abu Rideh and this decision has given him real hope that he may now be reunited with his wife and children, and be able to rebuild his life.”

She also said, “Amnesty is supporting Mahmoud Abu Rideh’s application for a UN travel document, to which he should be entitled as a refugee. However he seems willing to apply for an inferior document in order to leave the UK as soon as possible. The Home Office should issue this document to him promptly, rather than subjecting him to yet more delays. This is a minor victory for one man, but the pernicious system of control orders, which has driven him and his family out of the UK, remains in place. Amnesty continues to call for an end to the control order regime and its replacement with measures which respect people’s basic human rights.”

To this I can only add that I wholeheartedly agree, and hope that, after a crucially important ruling by the Law Lords just three weeks ago — in which the Lords unanimously delivered a resounding repudiation of the government’s use of secret evidence to impose control orders on alleged terror suspects — the government finally decides to abandon policies which are so alien to the laws on which the UK prides itself. For nearly 800 years, since King John signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede, Britain has been the country that not only enshrined habeas corpus — the right not to be arbitrarily imprisoned, and to be deprived of one’s liberty only after a trial with a judge and jury — but that also exported it to the rest of the world.

Mahmoud Abu Rideh secured an important personal victory today, but everyone who believes that no one should be imprisoned or otherwise deprived of their liberty on the basis of secret evidence – and, essentially, on the whim of government ministers who have turned the clock back to 1214 — must continue to insist that the control order regime is brought to an end, and that the use of secret evidence has no place in a country that claims to uphold civilized values.

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 see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

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).

10 Responses

  1. Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK « فرسان بلا خيول – أسرى المسلمين says...

    […] Posted by فرسان بلا خيول – أسرى المسلمين on July 4, 2009 By Andy Worthington […]

  2. Kidnapping People, Kidnapping Liberty… « Back Towards The Locus says...

    […] Worthington puts it superbly… …everyone who believes that no one should be imprisoned or otherwise deprived of their […]

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Thanks for this good news, Andy. Would have been better to know that Mahmoud had got a UN travel document though. I have this awful vision of Mahmoud living in an airport lounge!

    Thanks again, Andy, for all your magnificent support.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Eleanor Boyd wrote:

    Thanks very much, Andy. I have submitted the articles on Care2 and forwarded them to all friends. Well done!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks Ann and Eleanor.
    The cross-posting on the Care 2 network is here, btw:

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    David Mery wrote:

    Thanks for the heads up. At last some good news for Mahmoud Abu Rideh. I saw him briefly at the Liberty conference and the trauma of all these years in this limbo situation had clearly affected him. I hope he’ll be able to join his family soon and that they’ll have a better life in Jordan.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Estella wrote:

    Thanks so much for this, excellent articles, will circulate.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David and Estella.
    David’s site, btw, “calm, almost too calm,” is at:
    Its a must-read for anyone concerned about the loss of civil liberties in the UK, and very strong on ID/DNA database issues.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    And this from fellow blogger BenSix (follow the link):

    An atrocity, really. The poor man was bombarded, mentally and physically, and on the basis of, as far as we know, nothing at all! I’ve posted on it here (though only really excerpting from the letters, and your work)…

  10. Loy13 says...

    European nations become more and more depending from Brussels. ,

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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