Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 17:28 UK

Students protest deportation plan

Protesters at University of Nottingham
Students say the arrest was an attack on academic freedom

Students and lecturers in Nottingham have protested over plans to deport a university staff member previously detained under the Terrorism Act.

Algerian Hicham Yezza, 30, and Rizwaan Sabir, 22, were arrested on suspicion of possessing extremist material.

Both men were later released without charge. Mr Yezza was then rearrested on suspicion of being in the UK illegally.

Staff and students at the University of Nottingham are also angry over the way the case was brought against Mr Yezza.

The protest was held outside the Trent Building on the university's main campus.

The men were arrested at the university during a low-key operation in conjunction with the Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit on 14 May and released on 20 May.

'Desirable person'

Mr Yezza was cleared of any involvement in terrorist activity after police found he had been passed an al Qaida training manual by postgraduate student Rizwaan Sabir to print.

Mr Sabir needed the 1,500-page document as part of research for a dissertation.

University spokesman Jonathan Ray said: "We do cherish academic freedom but throughout these events we've also stressed that academic freedom comes with responsibility and it needs to be handled thoughtfully and sensitively.

"Any material that relates to scholarship is legitimate, it just needs to be handled with care and within the law."

Commenting on the immigration charge facing his client, David Smith, Mr Yezza's solicitor, said: "He vehemently denies this charge. He wants the case to go to crown court for trial so that he can establish his complete innocence."

A friend of Mr Yezza, Peter Nelson, said: "Hicham was well known by the university and is clearly a desirable person to have in the country."

Mr Yezza arrived in the UK 13 years ago.

He is currently being held at an immigration detention centre awaiting his scheduled deportation on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.


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