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Homeland Security

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

MALAWI: Five held on suspicion of global terrorism

JOHANNESBURG, 24 June 2003 (IRIN) - Malawi's High Court in Blantyre has halted the deportation of five men arrested over the weekend for allegedly being a security threat and ordered that they either be charged or released.

The five, from Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, were detained in the early hours of Sunday morning and taken to the Blantyre police station in a joint security operation allegedly by the US Central Intelligence Agency and Malawi authorities, their lawyer Shabir Latif told IRIN on Tuesday.

He said documentation produced at their arrest stated they were going to be deported on the grounds that "under global terrorism, they were a threat to national security".

Latif said a court order was secured to prevent their deportation, and that Malawi's laws and constitutional rights on deportation must be adhered to.

He slammed news reports referring to the men as being alleged members of al-Qaeda, which the US has accused of masterminding worldwide terrorist attacks.

"They have not even been charged with anything yet. This has nothing to do with al-Qaeda, it is simply about the rights of detainees. Their only crime is that they are Muslim and that three of them are working for charitable institutions," he said.

Latif expressed concern that nothing was known about the condition or whereabouts of the five, one of whom is a diabetic.

"They have had no access to a lawyer, their next of kin or a doctor," he said.

In compliance with Malawi's laws on arrest and detention, the men have to be charged or released by 10:00 pm on Tuesday night.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Malawi was not immediately available to comment.

US President George Bush is due to tour Africa in July, visiting South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Senegal and Nigeria.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance



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