Four years in Belmarsh takes toll on mental state

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The Independent Online

Mustapha, also known as "S", has spent nearly four years in Belmarsh high security prison, the longest incarceration of all the foreign terror suspects.

Mustapha, also known as "S", has spent nearly four years in Belmarsh high security prison, the longest incarceration of all the foreign terror suspects.

He was arrested in February 2001 at 6am when the door of his London home was smashed in by anti-terrorist police officers. Bundled into the back of a van, he was taken to Paddington Green police station where he was questioned for a week then sent to Belmarsh.

Shortly after, the case linking him to German terror cells was dropped but, before he could be released, he was re-arrested under a French extradition order. Later that year he was among the first foreign terror suspects to be held under the emergency anti-terrorist legislation that was rushed through Parliament.

There are growing concerns for his mental health. In a written account of his detention, Mustapha told The Independent he would doubt the truth of his own story if it had not happened to him.

"I was in Belmarsh prison for three years until all the prisoners have been released [by the French authorities] with whom I was allegedly connected in France."He says the British courts were going to give him bail after it became clear "I had already served all the time I would have to serve in France if I was extradited there". But the day before he was to be bailed he was informed by the Home Secretary that he was to be subject to the new emergency laws.

He says his wife and young son have been threatened with eviction, and adds: "My wife has become a human ghost. I requested the Government to let me go to France but [it] refused. I wonder, what this country wants from me? What is the wrong thing I did in this country or abroad to deserve this treatment"?