Mahdi Hashi’s Parents Speak Out: Our Son ‘Was Harassed All The Time’
The mystery surrounding the disappearance nearly one and half years ago of a Somali-British young man resurfaced on Wednesday after CNN aired an interview with the man’s parents.
Mahdi Hashi, 23, from London, mysteriously disappeared in December 2011 from Mogadishu, shortly after the British government revoked his citizenship over allegations of extremism.
His family had no idea where he was until he reappeared in a New York courtroom on December 21, 2012, almost a year after he disappeared, facing terrorism charges.
Hashi’s family say their son is innocent. They claim all what their son did was refuse to work with Britain’s MI5 spy agency which pressured him to become a spy.
According to UK’s The Independent newspaper which extensively covered the case, Hashi, who came to Britain with his family as a five-year-old, was among a group of young Somalis in London who had previously said MI5 had subjected them to a series of harassment and had threatened to portray them as terrorists unless they agreed to work with them as spies.
“They always used to tell him, ‘you either work for us or you are guilty of being a terrorist,'” his father, Mohamad Hashi, told CNN.
The father said the continuous harassment from MI5 was the primary reason why his son moved to Somalia.
“He never had peace here. He was being harassed all the time,” his father said. “They want him to be an informant and work for them.”
But the mystery is, how did Hashi disappear from the streets of Mogadishu?
According to US court documents, Hashi was arrested in “Africa” by “local authorities” in August before being handed to the FBI.
According to his lawyers, Hashi saw his cellmates beaten in Djibouti prison cell and tortured with electric shocks. He was given only two options while in prison: Sign a confession or be tortured.
Eventually he was turned over to U.S. authorities, who flew him to the United States, according to his American lawyer, Harry Batchelder.
Hashi’s father is still confused why his son was brought to a court in New York.
“He has never been to the United States even for a holiday,” he said. “He has never threatened the United States. We don’t know why he was taken all the way there.”
Asim Qureshi, research director for the human rights group CagePrisoners, said: “If Mahdi Hashi had still been a British citizen, he would have had some protection. But he has had his citizenship taken away and that has left him open to being a victim of rendition to the US with no state to defend his rights.”