NJ Officers Assault Detained Palestinian Activist, Confiscate "Anti-Government" Publications

Please check out the NJ Free Farouk Website at
http://www.anti-racist.org/freefarouk
and please attend the Free Farouk Rally on Nov. 29th!

Greg Pason
NJ Committee to Free Farouk Abdel-Muhti

>>

For Release: November 24, 2003

Contact: David Wilson, 212-674-9499, freefarouk@yahoo.com

NJ Officers Assault Detained Palestinian Activist, Confiscate "Anti-Government" Publications

On the evening of Nov. 19 law enforcement officers pushed, kicked
and punched a well-known New York-area Palestinian activist,
Farouk Abdel-Muhti, in the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, NJ,
after finding leftist publications in his cell. Abdel-Muhti and
his supporters say that the assault follows a pattern of
harassment of Abdel-Muhti for his political activities. Abdel-
Muhti has been detained for more than a year and a half by US
immigration authorities, who claim they need to hold him while
they attempt to carry out a 1995 deportation order.

The Nov. 19 incident began with an investigation in the wing of
the prison where Abdel-Muhti is being held along with 61 other
immigration detainees. Abdel-Muhti was not the target of the
investigation, but in the course of their inquiry, officers
decided to search all detainees' cells. Among Abdel-Muhti's
papers two officers found several leftist publications--including
The Militant, The Revolutionary Worker, Northstar Compass and
pamphlets by the Partisan Defense Committee--which the publishers
regularly send to Abdel-Muhti as a gift.

The two officers became abusive, calling the publications "anti-
government" and telling Abdel-Muhti to "shut the fuck up" and to
"go back to Palestine." The officers, who were not wearing name
tags, pushed Abdel-Muhti against the wall on at least two
occasions, kicked him to the ground, and punched him on the side
of the head. They then confiscated his personal property,
including papers, address books and medicine, which was
prescribed by the prison clinic for high blood pressure and a
thyroid condition. Abdel-Muhti, who is 56 and in poor health, did
not resist in any way.

The next day the prison filed a disciplinary report claiming that
Abdel-Muhti was concealing medicine. As of Nov. 24 he had still
not received new medicine, and the clinic had not examined him
for injuries he may have received from the officers, even though
he had first requested the examination on Nov. 19.

Abdel-Muhti's lengthy detention has attracted attention in the
media and in activist circles because of his claim that he has
been singled out for his work on Palestinian issues. The
government detained him in April 2002, one month after he began
helping New York community radio station WBAI set up interviews
with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Abdel-Muhti's legal team, which includes attorneys from the
Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild,
argues that the government must release the activist since he is
stateless and no country has accepted him. In October the team
filed an updated brief in Abdel-Muhti's year-old habeas corpus
petition, which is based on the Supreme Court's June 2001 ruling
in Zadvydas v. Davis.

The incident in the Bergen County Jail comes just as Judge Yvette
Kane of Harrisburg, PA, is considering the renewed petition, and
about a week before immigration officials in Newark were
scheduled to review Abdel-Muhti's eligibility for release under
supervision.

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11/24/03: Farouk Abdel-Muhti has now been held for 577 days