You can’t do ‘that’ research in the UK!

Proving once again that the terrorists just need to stand back and watch, the UK Government is stomping over its citizens rights yet again. This time we see a clear assault on academic freedom.

Despite his Nottingham University supervisors insisting the materials were directly relevant to his research, Rizwaan Sabir, 22, was held for nearly a week under the Terrorism Act, accused of downloading the materials for illegal use. The student had obtained a copy of the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website for his research into terrorist tactics. — Polly Curtis and Martin Hodgson [1]

And the University rushes to support the academics? Well, not quite … it was the University that requested police action.

A spokesman for Nottingham University said it had a duty to inform police of “material of this nature”. The spokesman said it was “not legitimate research material”, but later amended that view, saying: “If you’re an academic or a registered student then you have very good cause to access whatever material your scholarship requires. But there is an expectation that you will act sensibly within current UK law and wouldn’t send it on to any Tom, Dick or Harry.” [1]

Remember, we are talking about a document publicly hosted on a US Department of Justice server!

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

[1] Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days (2008-May-24) [The Guardian]
[2] UK Academics Arrested For Researching al-Qaida (2008-May-26) [Slashdot]
[3] UK set to deport Master’s student whose Master’s degree research led him to look up Al Qaeda info – ratted out by Nottingham University (2008-May-26) [BoingBoing]
[4] Stop the Deportation of Hicham Yezza [Wordpress Blog]
[5] Student was ‘studying terrorism’ (2008-May-23) [BBC]

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1 Response to You can’t do ‘that’ research in the UK!

  1. Pingback: This weeks links (2008-07-28) « Visible Procrastinations

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