Page last updated at 08:26 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 09:26 UK

Student was 'studying terrorism'

University of Nottingham staff have said the right to study freely is being upheld after a politics student was arrested under terrorism legislation.

On 14 May, two men, aged 30 and 22 were arrested on the university campus.

The alert was sparked when politics student Rizwaan Sabir, 22, sent a terror training manual, part of his research, to a clerk at the university.

Police have defended the arrests of the two men, who were held until 20 May but later released without charge.

A spokeswoman said the case was handled "in an extremely professional way" and was "kept low key".

It is really it could happen to anybody
Bettina Renz, University tutor

Students at the university are circulating a petition asking for the university to guarantee that the freedom of academics and students will be protected.

It asks the university to acknowledge its "disproportionate response" to the possession of legitimate research materials.

But University of Nottingham spokesman Jonathan Ray said: "It is in the character of this university to have a real divergence of debate, all kinds of views and all study is legitimate.

"The difference here is that the university and police were concerned by material, an al-Qaeda training manual, that was in the possession of someone who wasn't a student or member of the academic faculty and it was that anxiety that led to the chain of events which followed.

"We are reassured by the police investigation and know that the young man, who is articulate and intelligent, has demonstrated to the police that he had an academic interest in the material."

'Absolutely shocked'

But the student's personal tutor, Bettina Renz, a lecturer in politics and international security, said the police action was a threat to academic freedom.

"I was absolutely shocked at the severity of the reaction. I would never have thought that, by downloading something that's available on a public, official government website, it would lead to a response like this.

"It is really very worrying because I conduct research into terrorism myself and this could happen to anybody and that's very difficult for us in terms of academic freedom to do our jobs."

Mr Sabir sent the 1,500-page document, which he had downloaded from a US government website, to the 30-year-old member of staff for printing.

After his release under the Terrorism Act, the 30-year-old man was subsequently re-arrested and has been charged with a criminal offence under immigration legislation.

He remains in custody.


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