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13 Aug, 2009 08:41

US terrorism suspect to stand trial after 30 months of solitary confinement

A Muslim-American student is facing trial for allegedly supplying al-Qaeda with military hardware. Supporters of Syed Hashmi say his detention has more to do with his outspoken political views.

Faisal Hashmi recently headed to the Manhattan district court for a chance to briefly see his only brother. This occurred during a pre-trial hearing – which RT was banned from filming.

Syed Hashmi, 29, was arrested in 2006 and charged with providing material support to al-Qaeda.

The Muslim-American has been a known activist in his New York community, speaking out against the US wars and Muslim oppression.

“They are using his beliefs and values against him. What he believed religiously. What he believed going on in international affairs. How dare a person believe these things?” Syed’s brother Faisal Hashmi asks.

More than 50 supporters turned out to attend that 15-minute court hearing – and online, thousands are showing their support through Facebook and other websites.

Dozens of supporters fill the courtroom each time Hashmi has a pre-trial hearing. Some, like Matthew Chirox, have never met him.

“To sit in court and to see his eyes and his strength – it makes me look forward to the day when I can shake his hand,” Matthew says.

Faisal says his brother has been living in solitary confinement for more than two years. He is not allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read any newspapers.

“He’s in a 23 or 24-hour lockdown, the only breaks he does get is in a cage outside of his cell,” Faisal says.

The US government has put Hashmi on special administrative measures. His lawyer says this severely limits the evidence he and his client can see.

“They put special restrictions on his ability to communicate with the public and also with his lawyers, myself including,” says Sean Maher, Syed Hashmi’s lawyer.

Hashmi’s pre-trial detention has shed light on the US rule of law, and many people are now asking whether Guantanamo Bay has been closed or just relocated closer to home.

The next time Syed Hashmi enters the courthouse will be on November 30, the day his trial begins. Until then he’ll, receive one visit from one family member every two weeks.