Prison officers pushed client to suicide, lawyer of mentally-ill Muslim inmate tells RT

Ahmed Ferhani © Lucas Jackson
New York correctional officers pushed a mentally ill Muslim prisoner to commit a suicide by steadily abusing and sexually harassing him, the man’s lawyer told RT. She said there was “no question” but that NYPD entrapment landed her client in jail.

Ahmed Ferhani is in a medically induced coma after surviving a suicide attempt at Attica Correctional Facility, where he is serving a 10-year sentence on terrorism related charges.

Having complained fruitlessly of systematic abuse, both verbal and physical, Ferhani tried to hang himself last week.

He was moved to an outside medical facility, where medics are fighting for his life. Ferhani’s lawyer, Lamis Deek, has told RT America that “the prognoses is quite terrible,” as her client has “at best 50 percent chance of survival.”

“He is currently in a vegetative state. There is not anything that can be done for him for a while. The doctors had a hope that he would have been out of a coma now – they have been decreasing the medicine that put him in a coma initially – and he has not yet been responsive,” Deek said.

However, even if Ferhani survives, he would most likely be “paralyzed and/or blind,” she added.

Deek and her client’s family are now going to have Ferhani medically paroled to the care of a third party. The prisoner would relocate from Attica, where he alleged he was brutally abused by guards, often in relation to his Muslim faith.

Both the prison authorities and the New York Police Department (NYPD) have been aware of Ferhani’s history of mental illness and bipolar disorder.

“The NYPD themselves targeted him for this very lengthy and embarrassing intelligence and surveillance operation. They themselves had been picking him up from his home since he was 16 years old and taking him to Bellevue and Elmhurst – these are mental health hospitals – to be institutionalized. So, they knew that he had mental health issues even before they infiltrated his life,” Deek said.

Ferhani, 28 years old at the time, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars in March 2013 after pleading guilty to 10 charges related to a 2011 plot to blow up synagogues and churches in New York City.

Despite his “fragile condition,” correctional officers continually harassed Ahmed in a “concerted and well-orchestrated effort,” Deek said.

“It appeared to him, in what he had informed his family, that they were trying to kill him and they were pushing him to kill himself,” Deek said. “He had been beaten so badly at Green Meadows detention facility that he needed 12 staples in his head.”

Following the violent incident, Ferhani was transferred to Attica, a facility with a record of police brutality, where violence against him increased, according to Deek.

“He was subjected to sexual harassment. He was subjected to daily verbal, physical and psychological abuse. He let everybody know that he could not take it anymore,” Deek added.

According to Ferhani’s lawyer, the man “was afraid of complaining” formally because his actions would be followed by “retaliation” from the officers.

“At one point he even asked me to refrain from filing complaints because he was afraid of what was going to happen when I did send those letters,” Deek recalled.

Ferhani was arrested in May 2011 after NYPD’s eight-month undercover operation. The prosecution maintains that on that day Ferhani and his co-conspirator met with an undercover detective, and the three discussed a plan to purchase three firearms and a grenade. This is when Ferhani allegedly said that he wanted to blow up buildings in New York City, and handed over $100 as payment for the guns while also announcing his desire to purchase additional weapons and devices in the future for “the cause.”

However, Ferhani’s defense believes that the whole case – “illegal and unconstitutional in so many ways” – was “clearly a set up.”

“There is no question that he was entrapped,” Deek said. “We read the transcripts, we know what happened. We very well know the history of the man who called himself Ilter Ayturk but was really a UC undercover operative 242, the undercover police officer.”

She said that the undercover police officer forced Ferhani, who was unemployed at the time, to engage in some sort of a purchase by promising him a job and money.

“There had been some deal happening, not for the purpose of hurting people – he was never accused of hurting anybody – but to make some money,” Deek said.

She believes that Ferhani’s relatively low sentence that they agreed to take by making a deal with the prosecution shows that the government knew “what a mess it was.”

“They did not want us to get to the stage where we would expose by way of a discovery process all of the horrible and illegal things that the government, the NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office had engaged in to bring charges against Ahmed Ferhani,” Deek told RT.