Picture: Mahdi Hashi faces life in jail if found guilty of terrorism charges
By Robert Verkaik
A British man controversially stripped of his citizenship before being arrested and allegedly tortured has been denied access to his lawyers on the eve of his legal fight to be returned to the UK.
Mahdi Hashi, 23, who vanished last summer in Somalia, is in a high- security prison in New York awaiting trial on terrorism offences.
In a separate case, his lawyers will go before a special immigration court in London next week to force the Home Secretary to hand back his British passport, which she removed on the basis of secret evidence obtained by MI5.
Mr Hashi’s family say their son is innocent and must be sent home to face allegations that he was supporting terrorism in Somalia. But they fear he is facing an impossible battle because the Americans have imposed ‘special administrative measures’, meaning he is banned from communicating with his lawyers.
He faces similar legal impediments in the UK at the Special Immigration Appeal Commission, where his lawyers will be unable to challenge the evidence against him during a closed session next week.
The former North London care worker, who came to Britain from Somalia when he was aged five, lost contact with his family while staying in Somalia last year. When they began looking for him, they were told the Government could not provide assistance because Home Secretary Theresa May had issued an order depriving him of his UK citizenship over allegations of Islamic extremism.
A few weeks later Mr Hashi was detained by Djibouti’s secret police. He was taken to the country’s intelligence service headquarters, where he spent nearly four months. Mr Hashi said he was stripped to his underwear, blindfolded and told he would be sexually abused.
Hashi is in the Metropolitan Correction Center in New York. His family tracked him down just before Christmas
He was then handed over to Americans based in the African country and says the first team of interrogators ignored his pleas to alert the British authorities to his detention and torture. Last November, he was shackled and put on a plane to the US.
Mr Hashi’s lawyer, Saghir Hussain, said: ‘Mahdi disappeared in August 2012 in Djibouti only to reappear for the first time in public on December 21 in court in New York. He has disappeared again, this time by “special administrative measures”, which stop an inmate communicating with the outside world. I do not know if I will be able to speak to my client again.’
Mr Hashi’s father, Mohamed, added: ‘Mahdi has never posed a threat to the UK or US. He would not have been in this situation if he had not been harassed by the Security Services before he left for Somalia.
‘Our family will never end our fight to free Mahdi.’
He was believed to be held for a time at America’s military base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier (pictured)