Hicham ‘Hich’ Yezza, an ex-employee and student at the University of Nottingham, has been jailed for nine months after trial by jury and given a conviction of “securing avoidance of immigration action via deceptive means.”
He maintained that his passport had been stolen and that immigration officials extended his stay until December 2007. When it was later recovered by police it revealed he had failed to obtain a stamp since 2003 and that his stay in the UK was therefore illegal.
In mitigation, Caroline Bradley said her client had demonstrated a certain amount of “stupidity” for failing to follow official procedures as “if he had done things properly, he would have been granted in all likelihood the right to stay in this country”.
Sentencing him, Judge Charles Wide QC told him: “I find that your guilt in this case involved the deliberate, extended manipulation of the system for immigration control, which involved deliberate and serious deceit. The public is entitled to have confidence in the system of immigration control but it makes it much more difficult for truthful applicants if some applicants tell lies, as you did”.
Musab Younis, of the Free Hich campaign, said, “It’s really significant that the judge who sentenced Hicham said there was no basis to recommend deportation. The only reason Hicham is still here is due to the work of thousands of people – we should remember that the government tried to deport him within days of his incompetent and racist arrest under the Terrorism Act. We will continue to campaign for his right to stay in the country with his friends and loved ones.”
The trial follows the initial arrest of Yezza under the Terrorism Act, which sparked nationwide controversy relating to concepts of academic freedom and UK terror legislation.
It is understood that Yezza’s legal team are launching an appeal against the conviction.