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MEDIA -
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Saudi dissident shuts down site

Posted in the database on Sunday, August 28th, 2005 @ 21:16:42 MST (1023 views)
from BBC News  

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Dr al-Massari's site had attracted criticism

A Saudi exile facing calls for his deportation from Britain has closed parts of his controversial website.

Dr Muhammed al-Massari's site has shown images of suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq in the past, as well as messages from supporters of al-Qaeda.

He said the decision to shut down was his own, but that the site was a victim of the murder of freedom of expression.

The home secretary recently set out the grounds on which those promoting terrorism can be excluded from the UK.

Dr al-Massari, 58, is thought to be one of a number of people being looked at as part of the government's drive to deport those it says glorify or promote terrorism.

Tory homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer said Dr al-Massari was "a prime candidate for deportation".

He said: "I welcome the fact that al-Massari has taken down his despicable videos. It's important that we clamp down on extremism of this kind."

Last week he called for the al-Tajdeed radio station associated with Dr al-Massari's website to be shut down.

He said it was "desperately demoralising" for UK troops in Iraq to hear broadcasts encouraging attacks on coalition soldiers.

Internet obituary

But Dr al-Massari, who has lived in London since he sought asylum in the UK in 1994, said he was "not concerned" about possible deportation, which he said he would contest in court.

"London is not God's heaven on earth, it's just like any other place," he told the Associated Press.

"We will search for another place where we can speak freely."

An internet "obituary" on his site said it had been a victim of the "murder of freedom of opinion and expression by the oppressive regime led by Tony Blair, the liar and well known war criminal".

"Unfortunately we had to suspend big parts of our electronic site until this inquisition blows over or until I move to a country that allows an acceptable degree of free speech," the website message read.

Dr al-Massari said he had no contact with the police or the Home Office but had temporarily shut the website while awaiting clarification on his status in Britain.

It had previously been "open to anyone who wanted to post a message".

'Unacceptable behaviour'

Home Secretary Charles Clarke last week published a list of unacceptable behaviour from foreign nationals which could lead to their deportation.

Civil liberty groups voiced fears that deportees could be tortured in their homelands.

Amnesty's Halya Gowan said: "The vagueness and breadth of the definition of 'unacceptable behaviour' and 'terrorism' can lead to further injustice and risk further undermining human rights protection in the UK."

And the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the list of "unacceptable behaviours" was "too wide and unclear".

But Mr Clarke insisted: "Individuals who seek to create fear, distrust and division in order to stir up terrorist activity will not be tolerated by the government or by our communities."



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