UK Student Falsely Accused of being a Terrorist Awarded £20,000 by Police
September 17, 2011
Daily Mail Reporter
On May 14, British police arrested Rizwaan Sabir, 22, on the Nottingham University campus on suspicion of possessing extremist material. Sabir's "crime"?: He had downloaded an edited version of the "The Al Qaeda Training Manual" from a US government website for his postgraduate research. He was held for six days before he was released without charge.
LONDON (September 16, 2011) -- A student who was arrested under the Terrorism Act and kept in custody for six days has been awarded £20,000 compensation by the police.
Rizwaan Sabir, 22, who was studying for a master's at Nottingham University, was arrested after downloading a terrorist manual for his research on al Qaeda.
Police arrested him on the university campus on May 14, 2008 on suspicion of possessing extremist material.
Mr Sabir was arrested after downloading an edited version of the The Al Qaeda Training Manual from a US government website for his postgraduate research, his solicitor said. He was held for six days before he was released without charge.
After the cash award was announced, Mr Sabir said he was pleased to have cleared his name after a battle lasting more than three years.
A police spokesman confirmed a sum of £20,000 had been agreed to settle Mr Sabir's civil case.
'We stand by the fact that the arrest, detention and obtaining of a warrant of further detention were all perfectly legal, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances as they were in 2008,' a statement said.
'The matter was settled without admission of liability save that the force admitted that one brief search of Mr Sabir and his vehicle carried out in February 2010 was the result of a mistaken belief on the part of the officers involved. This was admitted in November 2010 and the force apologises for this search.
'Nottinghamshire Police has also agreed to amend some records held on Mr Sabir to give them greater clarity.
'Given that all litigation carries with it a risk, this modest monetary settlement was viewed as a sensible way of keeping overall costs to a minimum.'
Following his release from custody, Mr Sabir told ITV Central News: 'It was the most terrifying experience that I have ever had. It absolutely broke me. It has been the lowest time in my entire life.'
He said he had felt 'the bureaucracy of the state hit me in its hardest form and I feel that the police powers were used in the wrong ways'.
Mr Sabir, who is of Pakistani descent, said: 'There is no smoke without fire. There's fire and the fire is that I am Asian and I'm Muslim and I have got a beard and that's the fire so there is smoke.'
Mr Sabir, who is currently a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde researching the UK's domestic counter-terrorism policy, was arrested after the manual was discovered on a friend's computer.
It is understood Mr Sabir had sent the 1,500-page document to the friend -- who was also arrested on May 14 under the Terrorism Act and later released without charge -- because he had access to a printer.
A statement issued today by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors on Mr Sabir's behalf said the manual was 'well established as a document used for research in the field of counter-terrorism policy', was referred to in standard textbooks and was widely available.
The statement said Mr Sabir brought proceedings against Nottinghamshire Police for false imprisonment and breaches of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
He claimed that false information on Nottinghamshire Police records, including a clear but unfounded assertion that Mr Sabir had been convicted of a terrorist offence, had led to Mr Sabir being subject to numerous stops and searches.
Mr Sabir said the police 'have been forced to account for the wrong they did to me.
'But I am one of the lucky ones. I cannot forget all those other innocent people like me who have suffered at the hands of the police but do not have the chance or means to vindicate their names.'
Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy said: 'Clearly, the police have a difficult and important job to do in their counter-terrorism role, however, they must nonetheless act within the law and must be held to account when they do not.
'Through his remarkable effort and fierce determination over the last three years, Mr Sabir has been able to hold the police to account for their failings.'
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