The not-so-watertight case against Ahmed Zaoui

Over on the Scoop website, Gordon Campbell is carefully dissecting the nebulous Secret Intelligence Service case against asylum-seeker Ahmed Zaoui. It’ll be worthwhile following Campbell’s analysis over the next few days. Here’s a taster:

After all, the SIS case against Zaoui has never alleged him to be a terrorist, or even a potential terrorist threat. The risk security certificate against him was not issued under section 73 of the Immigration Act – which concerns terrorists – but under the far more nebulous section 72, which offers fewer protections to the accused.

For all those reasons, I believe the more likely argument the SIS will try to run is that Zaoui is now, and always has been, a radical hardliner – a man they will allege has been consistently opposed to peace and reconciliation in Algeria. A man who opposed the ‘truce’ offered by the junta in the mid 1990s, just as he has misgivings now about the amnesty promoted by the Bouteflika government in Algeria today.

No matter that those same misgivings are also shared by Amnesty International and by Human Rights watch. To make its case, the SIS has to use its 30 files of general information about pan- Islamic radicalism and then shoe-horn Zaoui into the stereotype.

There are more than 30 “secret” files on Zaoui, but they don’t amount to more than a lot of hot air it seems. Why is the New Zealand government so keen to see Mr Zaoui’s rights trampled? Despite its “Labour” tag, the Clark government is committed to the “war on terror”. Mr Zaoui seems to be the convenient scapegoat. That is, until the SIS “uncovers” some evidence that overseas-born doctors in New Zealand are the latest “threat”.

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