In 2008, Rizwaan Sabir – an MA student at the University of Nottingham – was reported to the police by the university for downloading a copy of the al-Quaeda training manual and emailing it to his friend, Hich Yezza, who worked as an administrator. Yezza was helping Sabir put together a PhD proposal on counter-terrorism. He downloaded the manual from a US government site. A longer version, containing more material, can be purchased from any bookshop. However, when another administrator found the manual on Yezza’s computer, the university immediately called the police, who arrested Sabir and Yezza. Sabir was held for seven days before being released without charge. However, despite his innocence, information was kept on record, and as a result, he endured various forms of harassment from the authorities. (Yezza’s treatment was even worse: he was imprisoned for several months in an immigration holding unit as the UK tried to deport him. It took two years, and thousands of pounds in legal proceedings to halt the deportation and win back his residency papers. Again, he was completely innocent of any connection with terrorism.)
The Nottinghamshire police have now paid Sabir £20,000 in an out of court settlement, over their handling of the affair. Let’s hope this changes the way that such cases are dealt with in the future. You can read more here.