Yemen asks U.S to transfer two Yemeni clerics out of supermax prison [Archives:2007/1107/Front Page]

November 29 2007

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, Nov, 28 Yemen's government asked the U.S. on Monday to transfer Yemeni clerics Mohammed al-Moayad and Mohammed Zayed from their cells into general security in the United States.

According to the official website Saba net, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi made the request to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The website did not reveal whether the Yemeni minister's appeal was accepted or not.

Al-Qirbi's appeal came on the same day that a Brooklyn court scheduled on Monday an appeal session for al-Moayad, 75, and Zayed, 45, at an unknown time.

Al-Moayad and Zayed, who did not attend the trial due to court orders, are imprisoned in AD supermax prison in Colorado state, described by the state's prison chief, Reginald Wilkinson as “the worst of the worst of the worst”.

According to Wikipedia, supermax is the name used to describe “control-unit” prisons, or units within prisons, which represent the most secure levels of custody in some countries' prison systems.

According to the clerics' attorneys, the prisoners are locked into small cells for approximately 23 hours a day. They have almost no contact with other people.

There are no group activities: no work, no educational opportunities, no eating together, no sports, no getting together with other people for religious services, and no attempts at rehabilitation. There are no contact visits: prisoners sit behind a plexiglass window. Phone calls and visitation privileges are strictly limited. Books and magazines may be denied and pens restricted. TV and radio may be prohibited, or if allowed, are controlled by guards. Prisoners have little or no personal privacy. Guards monitor inmates' movements with video cameras. Communication between prisoners and guards is mostly through speakers and microphones. An officer at a control center may be able to monitor cells and corridors and control all doors electronically. Typically, the cells have no windows; lights are controlled by guards, who may leave them on night and day. For exercise, there is usually only a room with high concrete walls and a chin-up bar. Showers may be limited to three per week for not more than ten minutes.

Zayed and Al Moayed were both arrested Jan. 2003 in Germany.

They were turned over to the U.S. after the German government approved extradition under approval by the German Federal Constitutional Court on Nov. 13, 2003.

The U.S. accused them of having connections with members of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic-Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

On July 28, 2005, a Brooklyn, N.Y., court sentenced Al-Moayed to 75 years in prison and fined him $1.25 million, whereas Zayed faces more than 30 years for his role in the conspiracy, according to the court.

On Nov. 26, 2007, U.S. authorities set the first appeal session for them, at an unknown date.

The defendants' lawyer challenged the sentences issued against al-Moayad and Zayed,, citing that the Brooklyn court which issued the rulings is not specialized in such cases and that the location reflected a bias, being strongly affected by the events of Sept.11.