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S Africa: Jordanian Held, Freed

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    Al-Qaeda suspect set free 23/04/2004 22:20 - (SA) Erika Gibson http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7- 1442_1517123,00.html Pretoria - You
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2004
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      'Al-Qaeda suspect' set free
      23/04/2004 22:20 - (SA)
      Erika Gibson

      Pretoria - "You are not white enough to go to court,"
      a policeman apparently told a Johannesburg man who had
      just been freed after 23 days without trial.

      The Johannesburg man was freed on Friday.

      Mohammed Hendi, 36, of Newclare denies al-Qaeda
      connections, which he said he was confronted with
      during questioning.

      He was freed shortly before the High Court was to hear
      an urgent application for his release.

      Hendi claims his ordeal started when he was invited by
      an Egyptian man to attend a discussion and watch a DVD
      on the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States.

      Hendi, who was born in Kuwait, fled with his family to
      Jordan during the first Gulf War. He said he had been
      to a number of countries, including Germany, the
      Bahamas and the United States.

      He came to South Africa 2½ years ago and married a
      South African woman, Serreen, in September 2002.

      Men had guns, but no search warrants

      He said that on April 2 his passport did not have a
      stamp entitling him to be in the country, because of
      negligence on the part of the department of home
      affairs and a computer problem there.

      On April 2, between 03:00 and 04:00, about 10 to 15
      men, arrived at his house without search warrants, but
      with "big guns".

      Hendi was arrested and numerous documents were seized.
      They also called his wife, who had been working a
      night shift, to come and take care of their son.

      He was taken to Moot police station in Pretoria where
      he was held in handcuffs. He was later taken to
      Brooklyn police station.

      Hendi said no charges were brought against him. Men in
      civilian clothes, who questioned him, called him a

      "They never spoke to me without swearing at me."

      On April 12 he and another Jordanian were taken to
      Johannesburg International Airport from where they
      were to be deported. The other man left the country,
      but he refused - even though he was offered money, he

      According to Hendi, he told an immigration officer:
      "Listen my friend, I am going nowhere."

      The Wits Law Clinic brought an urgent application
      before Pretoria High Court on Friday for an order that
      home affairs and the police either freed him or
      charged him in court.

      Shortly before the hearing, he was freed without any
      reasons given.

      Company has been irreparably damaged

      "We are still trying to find out why he was arrested,"
      said Joshua Paulson, his lawyer.

      National police spokesperson Sally de Beer again
      refused to comment on the case.

      Beeld brought the case to the attention of Leslie
      Mashokwe, spokesperson of home affairs, earlier this

      "I need to familiarise myself with the facts before I
      can deliver credible comment," he said on Friday.

      Hendi is considering legal action. His sweet company
      has been irreparably damaged in his absence and he had
      to sell two cars to pay his legal bills, he said.

      "I know myself. I would never do anything wrong."

      Edited by Iaine Harper


      Man held 'because he's Muslim'
      22/04/2004 10:17 - (SA)
      Erika Gibson

      Johannesburg - A South Africa woman's Jordanian
      husband has been held in a police cell in Pretoria for
      three weeks and no one can tell her why.

      More than three weeks ago, immigration officials
      phoned Shareen Hendi of Westbury, Johannesburg, at
      work saying they were about to arrest her husband,
      Mohammed, and she should come home to look after her

      Police could produce no warrant for Hendi's arrest or
      for searching their home. Yet, about 20 immigration
      officials, police officers and "people in civilian
      clothes" confiscated documents after searching the
      house and then took her husband to the police station.

      Hendi is a Jordanian and has been living in South
      Africa for two-and-a-half years. He and his wife were
      married last year and he has a residence permit
      because his wife is a South African citizen.

      "He has no criminal record and even has a statement by
      the Jordanian police to confirm this. He is also not
      wanted in Jordan for any offence," she said on

      She said her husband was questioned, handcuffed and
      put in leg-irons for the first two weeks of his
      incarceration at Pretoria's Moot police station.

      A week ago police transferred him to Brooklyn police
      station without informing her. He had to bribe a
      cleaner to phone her and tell her where he was being

      She suspected that he was being held "simply because
      he is a foreign Muslim". No charges have been
      formulated against him and no one can tell her what
      will happen to him.

      Two of her husband's Jordanian acquaintances were
      arrested in a similar manner and have already been
      deported to Jordan. A week ago, her husband refused to
      get on a flight back to Jordan.

      "One does not expect this type of action in a
      democracy. My husband did nothing wrong."

      Police denied that they were discriminating against
      Muslims, and the National Intelligence Agency denied
      that it was allowing foreign intelligence agents to
      question the Jordanians.

      The National Prosecuting Authority had not reacted to
      these reports by Wednesday evening.




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