Support urged for interned Blanketman

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Saoradh have called the immediate release of former political prisoner Ciarán ‘Zack’ Smyth and an end to the use of internment against republicans.

The lifelong republican from the Short Strand in east Belfast took part in the Blanket protest against prison uniforms in the late 1970s. On Friday March 27 of this year, Mr Smyth was arrested and summarily jailed in Maghaberry on the order of the British Direct Ruler for breaching release licence conditions.

A dossier of “evidence” presented in court to justify his internment contained little more than the allegation that Mr Smyth, a member of Saoradh, met other members of Saoradh in public places.

After four months behind bars and aged 60 years old, he is understood to be in poor health and isolated from his friends 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,” said Saoradh.

“We encourage those who rightly spoke out in support of these Republicans to do the same for Zack.”

There was concern for Mr Smyth due to the coronavirus crisis and the actions of the Maghaberry jail administration in imposing restrictive measures on prison visits.

Saoradh said there was no proof that Mr Smyth was involved in “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,” they said.

“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.”

LIAM CAMPBELL GETS APPEAL HEARING

Meanwhile, there has been a cautious welcome by campaigners to news that the Supreme Court in Dublin has set a date for Liam Campbell to appeal his extradition order to Lithuania.

It is the third attempt by Lithuania to seek his extradition, despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that he had no case to answer. Mr Campbell has already spent eight years behind bars fighting his surrender to a country with a history of human rights and justice abuses.

A campaign has grown in recent weeks to challenge the extradition, with the supported of councillors across Ireland. The Dundalk man has now been given a date of 19 January to appeal the extradition order.

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