The Terrorism Act is a dangerous thing. It is the closest we come in this country to a legislated breach of our human rights.

Hicham Yezza is someone who knows this all too well. A former PhD student and employee of Nottingham University,  Mr Yezza made headlines after he was threatened with deportation by the Home Office for downloading a copy of the al-Qaeda training manual from an authorised US website.


Nottingham supported Yezza

Nearly a year on and the 31-year-old lives every day in England as if it were his last.

Talking to him yesterday he said: “I’m fighting to have my day in court and the Home Office is fighting to get me out before it takes place.”  He no longer has the support he once had behind him (above). He has lost his job, was subsequently thrown off the course, denied his PhD qualification and faces extradition any day the Home Office see fit.

Mr Yezza hs spent the last months in and out of incarceration, where the authorities left nothing unscrutinised: “they examined every detail of my life: my political activism, my writings, my work in theatre and dance, my love life, my photography, my cartooning, my magazine subscriptions, my bus tickets.”

He has since appealed the case with a judicial review brought by his lawyers. With his court case on January 8th looming, Mr Yezza does not seem too hopeful: “Technically speaking, the Home Office is entitled to deport me before my trial even begins. even though their entire case is based on a presumption of guilt. In essence, as a foreign national I’m not entitled to a presumption of innocence or a fair trial.”

Downloading the al-Qaeda training manual from the US Justice Department website is not illegal. I was even told by a lecturer at Nottingham University (my old University) that had it been me who was found with the sensitive material the chances are staff would have approached me about it first before informing the police.

It is a grave injustice that a year on Mr Yezza’s future is still uncertain, and his life today is still governed by the omnipotence of the Terrorism Act