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Defend civil liberties

By Lee Wengraf | March 14, 2003 | Page 10

NEW YORK--Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti, held in prison since last April solely on a years-old deportation order, has been moved far from his lawyers to a maximum-security prison in York, Pa.

Abdel-Muhti faces no criminal charges, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is keeping him in a segregation unit, alone in a cell behind steel doors for more than 23 hours a day. Abdel-Muhti's arrest is a blatant attack on the civil liberties of a longstanding critic of U.S. support for Israel and Bush's war drive.

Abdel-Muhti has lived in the New York area for more than 25 years. The INS arrested him just one month after he began a regular show on New York's Pacifica Network radio affiliate that carried live interviews with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Behind bars, Abdel-Muhti has continued to fight back. In January, he and five other INS detainees went on an eight-day hunger strike to call attention to the thousands of immigrants held without criminal charges.

The Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti held a protest on March 7 at the Pennsylvania prison where he's now being held. "This transfer interferes with Farouk's constitutional right to legal representation," said MacDonald Scott of the National Lawyers Guild. "And the removal so far from the venue where his case is being heard goes against his due process rights."

Send messages of protest to David J. Venturella at the INS, [email protected] To contact the Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, send e-mail to [email protected]

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