Belfast man imprisoned ‘for political activity’

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A member of Saoradh, a former prisoner, has been summarily returned to jail, apparently for the offense of meeting other Saoradh members.

Ciarán “Zack” Smyth was arrested last week and sent back in Maghaberry Prison to serve the remainder of a 12-year jail sentence.

The Belfast native took part in the Blanket protest against criminalisation in Long Kesh in the 1970s while a member of the Provisional IRA.

Jailed for a non-political offence in 2013, for which he received the standard half-term remission, Saoradh said no legal justification for his sudden return to jail now has been made available to either his lawyers or his family. He has also been denied access to his legal team.

“Zack now finds himself once more in a British jail in Ireland at 60 years, and again subjected to sexual assaults by riot screws via forced strip searches,” they said.

“Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis he is in isolation, has no change of clothes, no money can be left in for him and has no access to phone numbers of his family and friends in order to make contact with the outside.”

Saoradh said he is considered vulnerable to the coronavirus due to pre-existing health conditions. “He is literally at risk of death due to the actions of the British,” they said.

They also strongly rejected attempts in the mainstream media to link Smyth to alleged threats against members of Sinn Féin. His legal team have not been told of any such threat in a dossier presented to them.

“There is nothing [in the dossier] that would warrant even the flimsiest of evidence that could result in charges, let alone a conviction, even in one of Britain’s non-jury Diplock Courts that are still in operation.

“The crux of the dossier is that Zack, a member of Saoradh, met other members of Saoradh, in public places, including in Saoradh offices.

“There is no proof provided of anything in any of these observed and internal Saoradh discussions that would suggest anything other than legitimate political activity.

“Ciarán Smyth is in prison because he is a member of a legitimate political party and was observed speaking to other members of the same political party by Crown Forces. This is in direct contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“That is something that should rightly concern and outrage all those who advocate the protection and implementation of human rights, regardless of whether they agree with Saoradh’s political analysis or not.

“Saoradh demand the immediate release of Zack Smyth and an end to the ongoing use of internment by remand, via miscarriage of justice or through revocation of licence. He is 60 years old, in poor health and isolated from his legal team and his family.

“In recent years we have seen the same British tactic of revocation of licence being utilised to intern Tony Taylor, Marian Price, Brendan Lillis and others. We encourage those who rightly spoke out in support of these Republicans to do the same for Zack.”

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