Detainee B

Name: Detainee B
Nationality: Algerian
Residence: Britain
Marital Status: Single
Date of Arrest: 20/12/2001
Location of Arrest: UK
Release on Bail: 11/03/2005
Date of Re-Arrest: 11/08/2005

Write to him : Detainee B
HMP Long Lartin
South Littleton
WR11 8TZ

Detainee ‘B’ is a single man in his thirties, who arrived in England seeking political asylum from Algeria. He was arrested in February 2002, two months after the Government brought in emergency anti-terror laws following the 11 September attacks on America.

He is alleged to be a member of the GSPC, a banned Algerian group, and to have sent communications equipment to Chechen’s fighting against Russian forces in the Caucasus.

On the 11th of March, ‘B’ was freed on bail, after 3 years of detainment without trial. The release of detainee ‘B’ and others follow a ruling by the law lords in December that the government’s emergency powers being used to hold the men without trial were illegal.

During his detention at Belmarsh Prison, ‘B’ acted as a carer for others. He shared a cell with another detainee ‘G’, and gave him much support as his mental health deteriorated.

He also gave much physical and mental support to a severely disabled detainee ‘P’, a North African detainee who has no arms. ‘B’ used to help him with simple tasks such as washing and dressing and fought the prison authorities for over two years on his behalf, before a carer was provided.

‘B’ constantly struggled to raise his concerns about the mental health of the other detainees. However, he himself eventually fell to the effects of indefinite detention.

‘B’, a skilled artist and potter, would attend a pottery class in prison where he produced many works of art. He spent two years working on an elaborately decorated Islamic vase, which drew much interest within the prison, as well as offers of many thousands of pounds.

In November 2004, Belmarsh suspended its weekly pottery classes. It can be noted that whenever detainees have demonstrated interest in a pastime that alleviates their situation, it has been closed down. The closure of the pottery class was the final straw for ‘B’, who had found escape in attending these classes. Soon thereafter, his mental health deteriorated further.

In October, doctors had concluded that ‘B’ and other Belmarsh detainees were being driven mad by their detention. All had self-harmed and had considered suicide; one had tried. All brought about by their indefinite detention without charge or trial, and anxiety about their families.

‘B’ was subsequently moved to Broadmoor hospital due to deteriorating mental illness which had led to a « life-threatening condition. » His transfer had a devastating effect on the remaining detainees, who had come to rely on him for much needed support.

On 11 March 2005, ‘B’ was eventually released on strict bail conditions.