[Yassin Aref was arrested in a government sting operation. Sentenced to 15 years in prison, his appeal was recently denied by the Second Circuit Court of appeals.

Dear Petra,

I am not surprised.

When they arrested me the first time, I was shocked the next morning when they took me to court. I was surprised to see all those police, marshals and media, and I was really confused: what was all that about? Who am I [to be so important]? What did I do? What was going on? All of it was unbelievable. I was laughing and arguing with the marshals that there is a law in this country and I did nothing wrong, so the judge will free me and let me go back to my family. But that did not happen, and the judge refused to give me bail, claiming I was a flight risk and a danger to the community, even if I did not have travel documents and there was just 50 cents in my wallet, plus I am stateless and have no country to go to. Above all, I did nothing wrong to [have to] hide myself and leave my children. Then while I was in jail and learned something about prisoners and the prison system in this country, I understood what was going on. It does not matter that I said or did nothing wrong, it’s not me, its the politics and discrimination. Anyone can see, by whatever the government called evidence——he will not have any doubt that I am innocent, and if I was not Muslim and an Imam in the first place never would I have been targeted. Even if they targeted me, never would I be indicted; even if they indicted me, no way to take me to trial by that evidence; even if they took me to trial, no way for the jury to find me guilty; even if they found me guilty, no way for the judge to accept it; even if the judge accepted it, no way for the appeal court to let it go. But all of this happened, not because the prosecutor proved anything by the evidence but just because I was foreigner, a Muslim who had a little beard.

All the government did was misrepresent their evidence to confuse the court and prevent justice from taking place. For me, everything was the drama written and produced by the government, and everyone else had a little role to play, including the judge, jury, and my lawyer. But still I am happy because I did nothing wrong and harmed no one, what they did to me is wrong and not fair, and I believe the truth will never die and people will find it sooner or later. What the government did is sad and dishonored justice and humiliated the Constitution, not me. Anyone who knows me and saw the evidence in the trial knows I am innocent and now respects me even more than before. No one believes I am a dangerous wild criminal who must be locked down in an isolated unit. I am just a scapegoat for the [government’s] wrong policies and a victim for their nonsensical ongoing war. It’s not just me——there are millions worldwide who are suffering and [who are] victims of this war.

The government has all my records and they know my entire life, they interviewed hundreds of people, they know very well I had nothing to do with terrorists or [anything] anti-American or [with] violence, and that never in my life did I participate in any fighting or plan or support any terrorists. Simply, I am just a Muslim and a stateless Kurd, no more, no less. Let the government celebrate their victory and let some fools congratulate them for destroying my family and for putting an innocent man in prison. Let the media sing for them and mention [me] as a big victory in their war. That and the appeals court decision does not change anything from the real truth and the big fact that I am innocent and did nothing wrong.

I am grateful for everyone who has supported me, wished and prayed for the best for me, and has felt sorry for my family. I appreciate your time and support and I would like to assure you all that I am fine and patient. They cannot put hate in my heart and revenge in my thoughts. I know it’s not over, and I hope you believe the same and stay firm until justice takes place and the truth comes out. Please do not forget my family.

Political Prisoner,
Victim of war,
Scapegoat for this administration’s policy,

For more information about this case see these two websites:
Justice for Yassin
Muslim Solidarity Committee