Talha Ahsan

After eight years without a trial in prisons on both sides of the Atlantic, Talha Ahsan is free..

by JAMES RIDGEWAY and JEAN CASELLA

” …At the time of his extradition in October 2012, Talha Ahsan had already been held for more than six years in high security prisons in England. He was closely watched, but was permitted to congregate with a small number of other prisoners, and had weekly visits from his parents and brother… In the United States, although a federal prisoner, Ahsan was housed in Northern State Prison in Connecticut—the state where the server that had housed Azzam.com was located, and where he would presumably be tried. He was in solitary confinement—23 hours in a cell alone, with one hour to exercise alone—but unlike many supermax prisoners, he was permitted to call his family. According to his brother, he has written another volume of poetry while in solitary. Talha Ahsan was by no means the first Muslim terrorism suspect to be held in solitary confinement while awaiting trial. Opponents of the practice point to evidence that solitary is a form of torture that leads to psychological anguish and breakdown, and argue that it becomes a form of coercion, pressuring the accused to agree to a plea bargain…”

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About

Prison activist and writer. Actually preparing a book on the introduction of maximum security prisons in Belgium and Europe, including the practice of solitary confinement. In 2008, Luk started the Belgian Prisoners' Family & Friends Association. (http://familiesfriendsassociation.blogspot.be/ In 2009, with Farida Aarrass he launched the Campaign Free Ali Aarrass (www.freeali.eu ). In 2012 he organised the Committee of the Families of European detainees in Morocco (http://prisonnierseuropeensaumaroc.blogspot.be/). Luk Vervaet is the author of « Le making-of d'Anders B. Breivik » (Egalité=Editions, 2012), « Nizar Trabelsi : Guantanamo chez nous ? (Editions Antidote, 2014). He is co-author of « Kim et Ken, mes enfants disparus » (Editions Luc Pire, 2006), « Condamnés à la prison? Ecrits sur un monde caché » (Revue Contradictions, 2008) et « L'affaire Luk Vervaet : écrits sur un interdit professionnel » (Revue Contradictions, 2011). Contributions : « Etats généraux sur les conditions carcérales en Europe : La condition pénitentiaire, regards belges, français et européens"» (2010, éditions MGER) ; « The violence of incarceration: a response from mainland Europe »(2010, Race & Class) ; « Gevangenissen: spiegel van onze samenleving » (2013, MO Mondiaal Nieuws)


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