Samar Hilmi Abdel Latif Al-Barq
Samer Al-Barq (SAB) was born in Kuwait and is of Palestinian origin. His family originates from the northern West Bank village of Jayyus. He studied in Kuwait until eighteen years old and then immigrated to Jordan.
In 1995, SAB travelled to Pakistan to study and graduated in 2002. There he also obtained a master’s degree in medical analysis at Karachi University. Upon completion he began working as a science teacher at a Karachi school and applied for his PhD in Islamic Studies in Islamabad.
Arrest in Pakistan and rendition to Jordan
On 15 July 2003, Samer Al-Barq was arrested in Pakistan. He was subsequently handed to the US authorities and kept for three months in a secret prison outside Pakistan, before being transferred to detention in Jordan on 26 October 2003.
SAB was released after an initial period of eight months’ detention. However, he was rearrested just two days later. He then spent four and a half years in Jordanian prisons, three of which were in isolation. He was never tried or charged with any offense while in Jordanian custody.
SAB was eventually released in January 2008. He then settled in Jordan where he began working in a medical laboratory and was joined by his wife from Pakistan. During this time, Jordanian intelligence continued to target SAB and subjected him to intensive interrogations which lasted for periods of a few days to a number of months.
He was re-arrested in April 2010 and held until 11 July 2010.
Transfer to Israel
On 11 July 2010, SAB was brought by Jordanian intelligence to Allenby Bridge, the border crossing between Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territory, where he was handed over to Israeli authorities.
He was then taken to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, where an Israeli military court issued him with an administrative detention order. As a result, SAB has been held since, without trial or charge, based on secret information.
“Administrative Detention” in Israel
Since SAB’s transfer on 11 July 2010, he has received over 7 administrative detention orders. His last order, which was issued in May 2013, was to last 6 months and was due for review in November. SAB’s lawyer took this opportunity to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court for release. The appeal was rejected on the basis that it was necessary to keep him in detention and a new order was issued.
As with all other administrative detainees, SAB’s detention has been based on secret information collected by Israeli authorities and available to the military judge but not to SAB or his lawyer, thus depriving SAB of the very minimum rules of due process and denying him the right to defend himself.
From 15 April to 14 May 2012:The continued use of administrative detention against SAB forced him to launch a hunger strike two days before the Palestinian prisoner’s mass hunger strike. About 2,000 prisoners demanded an end to the use of long-term isolation; an improvement in detention conditions; an end to the ban on family visits; and an end to the policy of administrative detention. This mass hunger strike ended on 14 May when an agreement was reached between the hunger strikers’ committee and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), with Egyptian mediation. According to members of the hunger strikers’ committee, the agreement included a provision that would limit the use of administrative detention to exceptional circumstances and that those held under administrative detention at the time of the agreement would not have their orders renewed.
Resumed Hunger Strike 21 May 2012:Nevertheless, immediately after the end of the hunger strike, new administrative detention orders were issued and many were renewed, including for SAB. Just one week after the end of the hunger strike, SAB received a new administrative detention order for a period of three months. Following the failure of the IPS to fulfil its obligations under the agreement, SAB resumed his hunger strike on 21 May 2012. His detention order was subsequently renewed on 22 August 2012. During his second hunger strike he was shackled to a hospital bed at times, and reported to lawyers that he was beaten and verbally abused by prison guards. He suspended his second hunger strike on 23 September 2012 after he was given promises that he would be transferred to Egypt.
Third Hunger Strike: When the Israeli authorities did not fulfil their promise regarding his transfer for Egypt, he resumed his hunger strike on 14 October. SAB suspended his third hunger strike on 24 October 2012 after lawyers from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC) delivered promises that he would soon be transferred to Pakistan through Egypt. In October 2012, PPC Director Qaddoura Fares told Amnesty International that the Palestinian Authority received an official letter from the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that they were willing to receive SAB, who previously studied in Pakistan and is married to a Pakistani national. He said that the process of transferring SAB to Egypt was the first step towards sending him to Pakistan and would begin after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on 30 October 2012. However, SAB was not transferred, and remained in Hadarim prison. His administrative order was renewed for three months on 21 November 2012, and renewed again on 24 February 2013.
Fourth Hunger Strike – 27 February 2013:Officers at Hadarim prison did not allow SAB’s brother and sister to visit him on 12 March 2013 “because he does not want to eat” (Amnesty International). His siblings were later told by a relative of a fellow inmate at Hadarim that SAB was being held in solitary confinement.
Health under hunger strike
On the 9th day of his second hunger strike, SAB was transferred from Ofer prison to Ramleh prison clinic as a result of his deteriorating health. Independent doctors from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) were denied access to SAB and the other hunger strikers.
On the 59th day of his second hunger strike, a PHR-I lawyer visited SAB and SAB reported that his health had severely deteriorated. He noted that three weeks prior, his heart rate had dropped to 35 beats per minute – an alarming and life-threatening state. Moreover, PHR reported, “IPS medical staff were extremely hostile in their conduct with PHR Israel's independent doctor, and did everything within their power to withhold medical information and intimidate the doctor.” PHR-Israel reiterated their severe concern for SAB and two other prisoners on hunger strike, and reported that the condition of the prisoners points to maltreatment and neglect by IPS doctors.
He was then transferred to Assaf Harofeh Hospital for one night, during which he was shackled by three limbs to the hospital bed. SAB also reported that the IPS had been threatening him with force-treatment or force-feeding if he did not break his hunger strike. At the time, he was suffering from vertigo, drastic weight loss and involuntary shivering and coldness in his legs, symptoms that may indicate peripheral nerve damage. SAB also suffered from both kidney problems and a previous injury to his leg, both of which need constant medical attention.
Denial to medical access
Throughout 2012, SAB was repeatedly denied access to independent doctors during his hunger strike. He was also denied access to specialist medical care appropriate for his condition. Moreover, during his second hunger strike, he was shackled to a hospital bed at times, and reported to lawyers that he was beaten and verbally abused by prison guards.
Mistreatment during prison transfers
SAB and fellow hunger striker Hassan Safadi have also been subjected to severe mistreatment by the IPS. On 5 August 2012, SAB reported to Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad that he was transferred from Ramleh to Ofer military court on 31 July by IPS special forces, or Nahshon, known for their particularly brutal treatment of prisoners during transfers. During this transfer, the Special Forces ordered him to walk, and when he told them that he could not (as he had been hunger striking since May), they beat him on his legs. They eventually brought him a wheelchair but did not help him to use it, so he was forced to crawl to the chair and wheel it himself.
SAB and Hassan were also put together in an isolation cell in Ramleh, which was only about 1.5 by 1.8 meters in size, with no windows or ventilation. Furthermore, there was no space in the room for the wheelchair that was being used by both hunger strikers for everyday activities, including the use of shower and toilet. After Hassan protested these conditions and treatment, he and SAB were both beaten.
Further attacks & brutal treatment by IPS
An even more violent attack was made against the two hunger strikers on 13 August 2012. IPS guards entered the isolation cell and announced that they were going to transfer the protestors to another section of the medical clinic. SAB and the other prisoner refused transfer, as it would have meant that they would have to share a room with prisoners who would be eating in front of them on a regular basis. SAB and Hassan were attacked in response to the refusal. Hassan had his head slammed against the iron door of the cell. He fell to the ground, unconscious. He was then dragged through the prison hall as an example to all other prisoners.Later that night, at around 10:00 pm, SAB and Hassan were taken to a new isolation room with no mattresses.
Limited Family Visits
His family have only been allowed about three visits since he was detained by the Israeli authorities in July 2010 (written by Amnesty in March 2013).
Israel’s allegations in Israeli Supreme Court November 2013
In November 2013, SAB’s lawyer, Salih Mahameed, brought his case to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. “We petitioned the court because in three days the Israeli authorities will be renewing his administrative detention order,” SAB’s attorney Salih Mahameed told AFP.
During this hearing, accusations against SAB, both by Israeli security agents and detailed in documents submitted by military prosecutors to the court, came to light.
In a particular document presented to the court, the military prosecutors described SAB as an operative in the global Al-Qaeda organisation with “a rich background in the field of nonconventional weapons, with an emphasis on the biological field,” having studied microbiology in Pakistan.
According to the documents, SAB left the West Bank in 1997 for studies in Pakistan, underwent military training in Afghanistan and in 2001 was recruited by Al Qaeda. They stated that SAB had been involved in what they described as an Al-Qaeda biological weapons project and that he had even led it.
According to the documents, SAB was involved in planning attacks on Israeli and Jewish tourists in Jordan during 2001, and agreed to train Palestinians to manufacture poison to use against Israelis.
Despite all these allegations, no charge was ever brought against SAB
Justifications for administrative detention
The detention of SAB does not seem to be justified by any crime he has committed but rather on conjecture.
Hence, the prosecutors argued that his petition to be released from administrative detention should be rejected by the court, since he would significantly boost the development of “global jihad” infrastructure in the region if free.
The documents highlighted that Israel had looked into the possibility of sending him abroad but that it did not find a third country willing to receive him. This, however, directly contradicts the PPC’s receipt of an official letter from the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that they were willing to receive SAB in October 2012.
American authorities questioning SAB
The documents said that SAB had been arrested and questioned at some unidentified date by the American authorities and that he was later arrested in Jordan, where he spent about five years in prison. Saleh Mahamid, SAB’s attorney, told the court that his client could not be dangerous, since he had been released from arrest by the Americans after just three months in detention in Pakistan in 2003.
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