Prisoner: Mahdi Hashi (pictured left) is believed to be held at a US camp in Djibouti after he had his rights as a UK national removed by the Home Secretary Theresa May (pictured left)
By ROBERT VERKAIK
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Mahdi Hashi is thought to be in prison in the African state of Djibouti
While he was visiting Somalia, Theresa May deprived him of all his rights as a British national
He was accused of extremist activities but his parents say this is wrong
After landing at Heathrow, he was approached by MI5 who said his 'suspect status' would be cleared if he 'co-operated' with them
A British citizen whose family believe he is being tortured by American secret agents has suddenly had all his rights as a UK national removed by the Home Secretary.
Mahdi Hashi – who MI5 once tried to recruit as a spy – has been deprived of his British passport, denied access to consular assistance and may never return to Britain. He is thought to be being held in an African prison.
Mohamed and Kaltun Hashi, the parents of the 23-year-old care worker from Camden, North London, became concerned for his safety after being tipped off that in the summer he had been taken to a prison in the African state of Djibouti while visiting neighbouring Somalia.
The information was passed on by another prisoner who said Mr Hashi claimed he had been ‘mistreated’ and was being interrogated by men working for America.
The Mail on Sunday has established that while Mr Hashi was out of Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May used a little-known power – which does not require a court order – to deprive him of all his rights as a British national.
It can also be revealed that Mrs May has issued at least another nine orders against British nationals. The majority have been served on Muslim men, although the most public case is that of Russian spy Anna Chapman, who had been married to a UK national.
Mr Hashi and his family moved to the UK from Somalia when he was five. In late 2009 he returned to the capital Mogadishu where he had met his wife, whom he married last year and with whom he has a child.
His parents found out about his detention only after the other prisoner had been released and returned to Somalia where he made contact with Mr Hashi’s relatives.
In a desperate attempt to find Mr Hashi, his mother-in-law travelled from Mogadishu to Djibouti, but despite repeated requests prison staff refused to say if he was there. The family has also approached the Djibouti and US authorities but have been given no information about Mr Hashi.
The deprivation of citizenship order signed by Mrs May says Mr Hashi has lost his rights to live in the UK because of the ‘public good’.
A letter adds: ‘The Security Service assess that you have been involved in Islamicist extremism and present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom due to your extremist activities.’
Mr Hashi has not been told of what he is accused, nor is it clear whether he knows he is no longer a British citizen.
Human rights lawyers said he may be the victim of a new Government policy in which Britain is denying British nationals citizenship when they find themselves in serious trouble in foreign countries.
Geoffrey Robertson, QC, prominent human rights barrister, said: ‘The increase in orders under this Government of depriving British people of their citizenship on non-conducive grounds is a matter of concern because it is always very difficult to challenge fairly. It means people are being deprived of their rights as a British citizen on the say-so of security officials who can’t be challenged in court.’
Cageprisoners, the human rights group that campaigns against secret detentions, believes Mr Hashi may be the victim of an American rendition programme in which suspects are unlawfully taken to third-party states where they are illegally detained and tortured.
The order issued by Mrs May can be used only against a UK national who has dual citizenship. It is not clear if Mr Hashi can still claim Somali nationality because he left Somalia for the UK when he was so young.
Human rights group are concerned that he may now be held at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti where the Americans have built a large base to combat terrorist groups across the continent. It is also where many of the US drone attacks in Africa are co-ordinated.
But in a legal Catch 22 the US Ambassador in London has written to the family, denying any involvement in Mr Hashi’s detention, stating that if Mr Hashi is a British citizen then he must contact the Foreign Office.
Last night his mother said: ‘We are very worried about him and just want to know what has happened.’
The only justification Mrs May has given for removing Mr Hashi’s citizenship is his alleged involvement in Islamic extremism. But his family say he has never been interested in any kind of extremist behaviour.
In 2009 Mr Hashi complained to his MP Frank Dobson and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which oversees MI5, that he was being harassed by security officers because he had refused to work as a spy in his North London Muslim community.
In 2009, Mr Hashi complained to his MP Frank Dobson (pictured)
In April that year, when he was working as a care worker for a very ill man in North London, Mr Hashi had gone to Gatwick to take a plane to visit his sick grandmother in Djibouti.
But as he was checking in he was stopped by two plainclothes officers. One identified himself as ‘Richard’ and said he was working for MI5, Mr Hashi said in his complaint to the tribunal.
Mr Hashi said: ‘He warned me not to get on the flight. He said, “Whatever happens to you outside the UK is not our responsibility.” I was shocked.’
Mr Hashi continued with his flight but at Djibouti airport he was stopped at passport control, held for 16 hours and then deported back to the UK. He claims Djibouti security officers told him their orders came from London.
After landing at Heathrow he was detained again and visited by ‘Richard’. ‘He said it was them who sent me back because I was a terror suspect.’
Mr Hashi alleged the officer made it clear his ‘suspect’ status and travel restrictions would be lifted only if he agreed to co-operate with MI5. ‘He said, “By co-operating with us we know you’re not guilty”'
Mr Hashi refused and complained to the tribunal and Mr Dobson.
His lawyers, solicitor Saghir Hussain and barrister Faisal Saifee, say Mr Hashi left for Somalia in December 2009 to visit his family and intended to return to the UK in the near future to study engineering.
Mr Hussain said: ‘It seems his imprisonment in Djibouti is the execution of a threat made in 2009 by MI5. What sort of country is this when you are spirited away to another state and your own Government’s response is to take away your citizenship?’
In a letter to the Home Office the Hashi family lawyers have asked for information that will help them provide legal representation to Mr Hashi during his detention.
The Home Office responded: ‘It has been the policy of successive governments neither to confirm or deny speculation, allegations or assertion in respect of intelligence matters.
This policy is maintained, and accordingly the Secretary of State can neither confirm nor deny the allegations made on behalf of your client.’