Truth the victim in American crackdown

Robert Fisk finds his articles being submitted as 'evidence' to deport an Algerian activist

Washington - In their efforts to deport Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) spokesman Anwar Haddam, the United States Justice Department is using carefully selected articles from The Independent - in which the irony has been lost on Justice Department officials - as well as dozens of items from the government-censored Algerian press, to prove that the FIS man should be expelled from the country.

The department is also submitting "evidence" from a self-styled women's group closely associated with the military-backed government; almost all witnesses, it transpires, will appear anonymously, while Mr Haddam has been refused permission to read the evidence allegedly collected from wire taps of his own telephone calls.

He had been acting as official FIS spokesman in Washington from 1992 until his arrest by US Immigration and Naturalisation Service agents last December after his parole immigration status expired.

He fears that he will be tortured or executed if he is returned to Algeria and his three children - all born in the US and thus American citizens - have decided to accompany him back to the country, where he is regarded as a "terrorist" leader, if he is deported.

Despite evidence from a senior member of the Community of Saint Egidio, which organised a peace meeting between the FIS and legal Algerian opposition parties in 1994 - and who testifies that Mr Haddam "continuously insisted on the necessity of a political settlement ... advocating political pluralism and respect of human rights" - the US government is pressing on with its case, producing "evidence" which clearly confuses the FIS with the much more violent and brutal Islamic Armed Group (GIA).

The American "evidence" also contains allegations against Mr Haddam made by a women's group which two years ago staged a mock trial of FIS leaders in Algiers which ended when the audience "condemned" the FIS men to death.

Although a submission from the State Department acknowledges that "there is convincing evidence that the security forces carried out dozens of extrajudicial killings and often tortured and otherwise abused detainees", the Justice Department has relied for most of its evidence on Algerians who support the regime.

A list of six unnamed Algerians - all referred to as "Jane Doe" - accuse Mr Haddam of "crimes against humanity", including rape, beheading and hijacking. The testimonies make specific reference to the hijacking of an Air France jet in 1994 - even though the GIA, not the FIS, carried out the assault.

This evidence makes no reference to the FIS's condemnation of the killing of civilians, nor does it make any reference to the FIS victory in parliamentary elections which were subsequently annulled in 1992 by the military-supported government.

Similar references to FIS "control" of local government authorities prior to this date fail to mention that the FIS won a majority of seats on these councils in free elections.

One of the articles from The Independent - filed by me from Algiers on 8 March 1995 - has apparently been included because of a final paragraph which referred to photographs of murdered Algerian intellectuals. "It was enough to make you hate them [Islamists], despise them, deprive them of any human attribute, let alone human rights - which was, of course, the intention, provided you could forget how many people voted for the FIS in the elections which the government annulled."

Mr Haddam's lawyers have concluded that the Justice Department official failed to see the irony in the last line - or understand my remark that for the audience "the word 'terrorist' clearly applied to anyone remotely connected with the 'Islamist' cause".

Another Independent article put forward as evidence by the US government is a report that I wrote on 20 February this year, telling of the murder of a trade unionist leader by the Jihad Islamic Front, which is loosely associated with the FIS.

Mr Haddam is not mentioned in my report, although an exultant claim for the killing - the trade unionist was a staunch supporter of the government's repression of the "Islamists" - was published by a FIS support group in London.

At least 100,000 people have died in Algeria's civil war. The FIS claims that the GIA has been infiltrated by government agents, but makes no secret of its own attacks on policemen, soldiers and officials.

Nevertheless, the Justice Department's documentation shows evidence of considerable sloppiness. The title of at least two of the Algerian newspapers quoted have been mis-spelt and no reference is made to the Algerian government's insistence that newspapers must print news of "terrorism" according to the regime's instructions.

Many of these articles are about GIA massacres which the FIS have condemned, but for which the Algerian newspapers blame the FIS which is now illegal in the country.

A government witness list says a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent will spend eight hours reading "classified information" to the US immigration judge while an anonymous "terrorist victim from Algeria" will talk for two hours.

Mary Ramadan, Mr Haddam's Washington lawyer, claims that denial of access to classified material will prevent her client from denying or rebutting any charges against him. But the US government, it seems, is set on putting Mr Haddam on an aircraft to Algiers.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game