A Statement of Concern

Syed Hashmi is a Muslim American citizen being held in a federal jail on two counts of providing material support—and two counts of making a contribution of goods or services—to Al Qaida. As his case goes to trial, we wish to register our concern about the conditions of his detention, constraints on his right to a fair trial, and the potential threat his case poses to the First Amendment rights of others.

The conditions of Hashmi's detention are draconian. He is in solitary confinement and subject to a regime of severe deprivation. Under special administrative measures (SAMs) imposed by the Attorney General, his communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media, and people outside the jail—as well as access to the news and other reading material— is either prohibited or highly restricted. He is subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown, has no access to fresh air, and must take his one hour of daily recreation—when it is given—inside a cage.

Hashmi's right to a fair trial is in jeopardy. The prosecution may present new allegations against him up until the day before his trial begins. It may withhold evidence from him and/or his attorneys yet share that evidence with the judge. He may not communicate with the news media, either directly or through his attorneys. The conditions of his detention may impair his mental state and ability to testify on his own behalf.

The prosecution's case against Hashmi, an activist within the Muslim community, threatens the First Amendment rights of others. While Hashmi's political and religious beliefs, speech, and associations are constitutionally protected, the government may attempt to use them as evidence of his criminal intent. This could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of others, particularly in activist and Muslim communities.

We call upon the United States government to review and alleviate the conditions of Hashmi's detention, particularly his solitary confinement and the SAMs imposed upon him; to remove or revise the constraints on his right to a fair trial; and to guarantee that his actions—rather than his constitutionally protected statements, beliefs, and associations—constitute the basis of the government's case against him, in court and in the public arena.

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