A New York man, originally from Belfast, was violently dragged from his car and arrested by the PSNI police on Friday before being released without charge the following day.

Sean Mackin was assaulted and bundled into an unmarked PSNI vehicle while visiting his family over the Easter holidays. He was taken into PSNI custody in their Antrim interrogation centre, apparently for questioning regarding the 1983 killing of an RUC man.

Originally from Belfast, now a resident of New York City, Mr Mackin is a U.S. citizen who won political refugee status in a landmark decision over a dozen years ago in the US courts.

In 1985 two men, one an ex-IRA hunger striker from County Tyrone, were jailed for their part in the death of RUC Reserve Constable Colin Carson.

In 1989, in connection to his deportation case in US courts, the RUC and British Intelligence stated no cause to seek him nor to question him on any charges.

Mr Mackin has visited his relatives in his home town of Belfast many times over the years since he won his deportation case in the US, the first of its kind.

Today, Sinn Féin policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly described the arrest as ``vindictive'' and ``outrageous''.

He said Sinn Féin had been in contact with the US Consulate regarding the matter.

``This action coming in the week when evidence of the Special Branch involvement in various criminal activities including murder was unveiled by Judge Cory is further evidence of the influence of the old regime over current policing arrangements.''

It is also the second such development in a so-called `historic' murder case in less than a month.

Three weeks ago, former INLA man Joseph Magee -- who successfully fought extradition from the 26 Counties -- was charged with the 1992 killing of a British soldier and taken to Derby in England.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, anyone convicted of a scheduled offence committed before 1998 will be entitled to apply for immediate early release, as long as the organisation is on ceasefire.

Irish republicans facing outstanding investigations or prosecutions known as ``on the runs'' or OTRs are the subject of ongoing negotiations. Under last year's Joint Declaration of the Irish and British governments -- which was never implemented -- the status of OTRs was to be normalised.

Mr Mackin is well known in Irish-American circles as a dedicated political activist and Friday's PSNI attack is being seen as a gratuitous act of violence on a man who has worked to expose such brutality.

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