A Prisoner Without an Offence
This is a true story.
One January morning, Y went to the cashpoint near his home to draw out some money. When the machine swallowed his card, he went into the bank, where he was told he needed to contact the card provider.
He arranged to visit a local branch of his own bank, where he was introduced to the manager. Y noticed that the manager appeared to be slightly nervous. A man and a woman walked over to Y, asked him to confirm his name, then asked him to accompany them to another office at the bank. Inside, six or seven policemen were waiting. Y was informed that he was being arrested as a suspected terrorist. He was handcuffed, and led away.
Y has been convicted of no criminal offence – “not so much as a parking ticket”…
That was in 2003. Since then, Y has been convicted of no criminal offence – “not so much as a parking ticket”, he says – yet has spent years behind bars. When allowed out of prison, he has faced extraordinary restrictions on his movements.
Y is told in which house he must live. At one point, he was told in which town he must reside. On first arriving at his new home, he is given a map of the neighbourhood, on which is marked a boundary beyond which he cannot stray. If he crosses the boundary, he may be sent to jail. He is told how long he can remain outside his home: initially, he was allowed out for just two hours each afternoon. He must wear an electronic tag, which is linked to a sensor in his home, and must telephone the company that operates the tag every morning and every evening. If he fails to make the call, he may be sent to jail.
Y cannot meet anyone without the prior permission of the government. Any prospective employer must agree to be vetted by the government and, as a result, few are prepared to give him a job. If he returns to education, the government will decide what he can study.
Visitors are not permitted to remain in his home overnight. He has recently been given permission to buy a computer, but he must connect to the internet by cable, and is barred from using email, Skype or any form of social media. If he attempts to do so, he may be sent to jail.
And then there is the little matter of his name. When Franz Kafka wrote The Trial, his story of a young man who is subjected to a bewildering legal process that he can never influence, the novelist at least gave his protagonist, Josef K, a first name.
By order of a court, the Guardian cannot publish Y’s real name. We may identify him only as Y. If we breach the order, I may be sent to jail.
All this is happening in Britain in 2015.
Read the full text of this story: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/05/kafkaesque-life-of-terror-suspect-in-britain-algerian-asylum-seeker