Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, the Palestinian Scottish doctor who had been imprisoned for over 15 months in Britain on political charges — and who is still awaiting trial — was finally released on bail on 13 December 2021. However, he continues to face unjust sanctions and repression in addition to the pending political charges.
During his detention, Issam’s licence to practise medicine was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) on 26 October 2020 after the charges filed against him, despite the fact that he has been convicted of nothing and that the charges in no way relate to his fitness to practise medicine or his treatment of his patients.
On Friday, 10 June at 10 am British time (11 am central Europe, 12 noon Palestine, 2 am Pacific time, 5 am Eastern time), the Supreme Court of Scotland in Edinburgh will hold a one-day hearing on the suspension of Issam’s license to practice medicine. This is a public session that is open to public virtual attendance. We urge all supporters of Issam and of Palestine to attend this hearing to show that Issam has support in Scotland, Britain and around the world!
Issam will be representing himself in court and challenging the action of the General Medical Council. While the subject at hand is the medical license suspension, the political nature of the charges against him, the MI6 operation and the targeting of the Palestinian and Irish movements — the reasons for his arrest — are part and parcel of the matter that will be addressed.
Please write to us at email@example.com to receive the link to attend the virtual court hearing on Friday, 10 June. Note that during the court hearing, please keep your sound off and display your name, and do not make an audio or video recording of the hearing. Please make sure to abide by the rules of the court in order to make your support for Issam most effective. Let’s show up in court in solidarity with Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat!
One day before the court hearing, join a Twitterstorm to publicize Issam’s case! Join us to tweet #SupportIssam on Thursday, 9 June at 5 pm British time, 6 pm central Europe, 7 pm Palestine time, 9 am Pacific, 12 noon Eastern! Get sample tweets at http://tinyurl.com/supportissam
- Join a Twitterstorm to publicize Issam’s case! Join us to tweet #SupportIssam on Thursday, 9 June at 5 pm British time, 6 pm central Europe, 7 pm Palestine time, 9 am Pacific, 12 noon Eastern! Get sample tweets at http://tinyurl.com/supportissam
- On Friday, 10 June at 10 am British time (11 am central Europe, 12 noon Palestine, 2 am Pacific time, 5 am Eastern time), the Supreme Court of Scotland in Edinburgh will hold a one-day hearing on the suspension of Issam’s license to practice medicine. Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the link to attend the virtual court hearing on Friday, 10 June. Note that during the court hearing, please keep your sound off and display your name, and do not make an audio or video recording of the hearing. Please make sure to abide by the rules of the court in order to make your support for Issam most effective.
Read below for more background on the case:
Who is Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat?
Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat is a Palestinian Scottish doctor facing persecution by the British state. He has been targeted for his commitment to international solidarity and as a political means of repressing both the Palestinian and Irish movements. He was held in British prisons for nearly 16 months and was released on bail, under heavy conditions, on 13 December 2021 after suffering a heart attack behind bars.
Alongside his fellow detainees, the Saoradh 9, he was detained in “Operation Arbacia,” a series of political arrests carried out by British authorities.
He was targeted by an MI5 infiltrator, Dennis McFadden, to attend a bugged meeting with members of Saoradh, an Irish republican socialist political party that advocates for an end to British colonialism and a united Ireland. He was detained on 22 August at Heathrow Airport on the same day that nine members of Saoradh were also arrested by British forces. His bail applications were repeatedly denied before his December 2021 release, despite serious health issues and the damaging effects of incarceration on his and his fellow detainees’ well-being.
Dr. Hijjawi Bassalat, 64, came to the UK in 1995 to work as a doctor, and he is a well-known, respected member of the Palestinian community in Scotland and the father of four. He previously served as chair of the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland (today, the Scottish Palestinian Society) and has been active throughout Europe in advocating for Palestinian rights to return, freedom and justice, speaking frequently at meetings, conferences and events.
Infiltration and MI5 Attacks
“Operation Arbacia” sprang from the decades-long infiltration of Irish republican movements by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden, detailed in a Channel 4 News report. Issam was entrapped into a meeting with McFadden on false pretenses after he was told by British officials that he had to pick up his daughter’s passport renewal in Belfast instead of Glasgow. There, he was invited to what was presented to him as a Saoradh meeting to discuss international solidarity and the Palestinian cause; he had previously spoken to a Saoradh Ard Fheis (annual meeting) about Palestine, an open, public event.
Under the emergency laws still in effect in the north of Ireland, his case will be heard by a judge without a jury.
He is charged with “preparatory acts of terrorism” under the 2006 Terrorism Act, based on his attendance at this meeting engineered by MI5. Issam’s solicitor, Gavin Booth, has seen the transcript of the meeting Issam was compelled to attend, noting that “Everything that’s contained within the transcripts and the recordings is about Palestine, is about peaceful and democratic change. There’s nothing in the transcripts from Dr Bassalat that would support violence in any way.” Despite these facts and the presumption of innocence that is supposed to apply, he was held on remand for nearly 16 months as his health deteriorated and his medical license was suspened.
Dr. Issam’s Health Crisis
Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, Palestinian political prisoner in British jails and a medical doctor, suffered a heart attack inside Maghaberry prison on 9 October. The first judge to hear his renewed bail application after the heart attack said it was not an indication of “changed circumstances,” despite the risk to his life and well-being. It was not until months later that he finally won release.
These delays have added yet more time behind bars to a process in which Dr. Bassalat’s lawyer already declared that the evidence will take him at least 63 weeks to review before a trial could be possible. He already experienced surgery while imprisoned after a hunger strike and repeated protests to spur medical treatment for his injured spine. He did not receive adequate space and time for exercise and physical therapy after his surgery, due to his continued imprisonment.
As he appealed for human rights groups to address his case, Dr. Bassalat said in a statement that “all the might of the British Government” has been used against him, “a single individual [who] dared to challenge the British historic role in creating the Palestinian plight through the Balfour Declaration and the 30 years of the British Mandate in Palestine ending in al Nakba – the catastrophe of the Palestinians in 1948.”
Targeting Issam’s Bank Account and Medical License
In addition to his unjust imprisonment, Dr. Hijjawi Bassalat has suffered further injustice. During his detention, his medical care was initially delayed, and then after he finally received necessary surgery, he was denied pain relief and proper therapy. Despite his condition, he continued to be denied bail.
His bank account was frozen, denying him access to funds and creating even more inconvenience and trauma for his family — again, all while he ostensibly retains the presumption of innocence. Issam’s licence to practise medicine was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) on 26 October 2020 after the charges filed against him, despite the fact that he has been convicted of nothing and that the charges in no way relate to his fitness to practise medicine or his treatment of his patients.
Issam is being targeted as a Palestinian in an attempt to justify the MI5 infiltration of public political parties and to smear both the Palestinian and Irish struggles through entrapment and misrepresentation. The presumption of innocence is being cast aside for political gamesmanship. We urge the immediate release of all political prisoners, including the Saoradh 9, detained in British jails, and the dropping of all charges against Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat.