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Somalia demands Denmark releases mentally ill refugee in return for repatriation deal

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Somalia’s ambassador to the EU has tied an agreement with Denmark on rejected asylum seekers to the long-standing and controversial case of a Somali refugee detained at a Danish psychiatric unit since 2001.

The north east African country wants Denmark to release 36-year-old Abdulle Ahmed as a condition of entering talks on accepting Somalian asylum seekers rejected by Denmark, reports the Politiken newspaper.

Ali Faqi, Somalia’s ambassador to the EU, made the demand during a 20-minute meeting with the Danish ambassador in Belgium at the beginning of this month, according to the report.

Somalia has previously confirmed that no agreement on forced repatriations exists between it and Denmark.

Denmark’s government has stated that it wants to be able to forcibly repatriate Somalians whose claims for asylum are rejected. That wish now appears to have been attached to the fate of Abdulle Ahmed.

“I have literally said to the Danish ambassador that there will be no agreement on refugees being returned to Somalia until Abdulle’s situation is resolved,” Faqi told Politiken.

Louise Bang Jespersen, Denmark’s ambassador in Belgium, confirmed to the newspaper the meeting had taken place along with its subject matter.

Abdulle Ahmed is a psychiatric patient who has been held at the Sikringen institution for legally detained mental health patients for the last 16 years.

Ahmed came to Denmark as a 12-year old in 1992, and started receiving treatment for psychiatric conditions at the age of 15, reports Politiken.

In 2001, when he was 20, he was given a custodial sentence at a psychiatric unit for assault against a social carer. After a second assault, Ahmed was transferred to the high-security Sikringen institution, where he has remained until today.

Some of Denmark’s most dangerous and unstable prisoners are detained at Sikringen. Transfer to the institution requires a statement that the prisoner is dangerous – known as a farlighedsdekret – due to their condition.

Such a statement regarding Abdulle Ahmed was issued by the Ministry of Justice on the recommendation of doctors in 2001, after he was diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia. But although the sentence for psychiatric treatment was lifted by Holbæk Court in 2009, the ministry did not withdraw its statement, according to Politiken’s report.

A message painted on to the path in front of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue in an act of vandalism on Wednesday morning has been reported to refer to Ahmed.

The family of the 36-year-old psychiatric patient, as well as the ‘Free Adbulle’ movement calling for his release, told the Nordjyske newspaper in a joint statement on Thursday that they condemned the act of vandalism.

“There must be no doubt about the intentions of Ahmed Abdulle’s family and the Free Abdulle movement – to help Abdulle and to win his freedom. There have been several legal demonstrations calling for Abdulle’s release with several hundred participants. There has never been trouble, vandalism or anything like that,” wrote Ahmed’s brother Mohamud Ahmed.

Ahmed’s case is already a diplomatic issue between the two countries. Faqi has previously demanded him to be handed over to Somalia and hired a Danish lawyer to work for his release. The Danish authorities have so far not shown any desire to meet the Somalian demands.

The 36-year-old’s parents say that their son is being held illegally for a treatment that is not effective, and the case has been discussed on repeated occasions in the Danish media as well as in the Somalian diaspora in Europe.

The case has also been criticised by a parliamentary ombudsman, the Council of Europe’s torture committee and Amnesty International, reports Nordjyske.

Documentation has shown that Ahmed has been given anti psychosis medicines in far greater amounts than recommended doses and has received electroshock therapy on several occasions, according to Politiken’s report.

A migration studies expert told Politiken that the demands mixing together two separate issues represented a “merchant mentality” commonly seen when countries attempt to make deals on repatriation.

“This is an unpleasant example of the merchant mentality that seems to characterise many of the repatriation arrangements that are made – not just for Denmark, but also on a European level,” Martin Lemberg-Pedersen of Aalborg University told Politiken.

Denmark’s Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the case, citing that it could not comment on individual cases.

The Ministry of Immigration wrote in a written message that it was seeking an agreement on rejected asylum seekers with Somalia and that negotiations were continuing in private at Somalia’s request.

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The Democratic Party candidates for Senate : ‘Landlord legislator’ faces 2 challenges – Kayse Jama and Shemia Fagan

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The Democratic Party candidates for Senate District 24 visited Rockwood to discuss the issues facing their constituents and answer audience questions ahead of the May 15 primary.

Incumbent Sen. Rod Monroe was joined by his two primary challengers Kayse Jama and Shemia Fagan. The event was hosted by the Multnomah County Democrats on Wednesday night, Jan. 17, at the Rosewood Initiative, 16126 S.E. Stark St. The candidates spoke before an engaged crowd of about 60 voters, who clapped and cheered throughout the evening.

District 24 encompasses east Portland, including parts of the Centennial neighborhood, and north Clackamas County.

Monroe is a retired teacher and co-chairman of the Ways and Means Education subcommittee. His top priority is to stop teacher layoffs, reduce class sizes and improve nutrition options for students. He also is working to improve transportation safety and efficiency, and keep drivers under the influence off the roads. Monroe, who first claimed a seat in the Legislature more than 40 years ago, has championed health and safety regulations.

Jama is a community-based leader who was born in Somalia. As an immigrant to the United States, he wants to support those in achieving the “American Dream.” He is an advocate for those experiencing poverty, displaced workers, women, people of color, native people, immigrants and refugees, the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities. One of his main focuses is bringing more diversity into positions of power within the community.

Fagan is a former representative who served two terms in the Oregon House before stepping down last year to focus on her family and career as an employment lawyer. She also has served on the David Douglas School Board. Fagan has worked on sidewalk and safety improvements for East Portland streets and tenant protection legislation. Her two main goals are securing more affordable housing and protecting people’s access to healthcare.

Audience questions

The main portion of the debate consisted of the candidates addressing questions from the people who came to hear them:

How does taking financial support affect campaigns?

Jama: We need to remove money from our politics if we want a true democracy.

Monroe: I have voted for every attempt at campaign reform. I have never traded my vote for anything — ever. There are no strings attached to any dollars given to my campaign.

Fagan: Democracies function on principals of accountability. Working people and parents can’t spend half their time raising money.

What are your plans for public transit?

Monroe: We need North-South bus routes in the outer Portland area. TriMet has assured me they will put those routes in place with the funding they have received.

Fagan: Public transit is an incredible opportunity. Bigger freeways don’t solve traffic problems, so being smart and not passing the cost along to the people we are trying to help is critical.”

Jama: Transit has to be accessible and affordable for all people. It’s time for corporations to pay their fair share. One thing proposed is tolls, but that means someone displaced from Portland will now have to pay to use the roads to get to work.

How do you plan to support kids in poverty?

Jama: 60,000 kids are homeless in this state. We have to work hard to support the families struggling to pay their services and find housing.

Monroe: I have been responsible for childhood and women’s rights programs. I was the author of three major nutrition programs, because these kids get their nutrition from our schools.

Fagan: Small class sizes and after-school programs are when teachers can see when kids need more support. We also have to better fund summer programs, because that is when children in poverty fall further behind.

How would you deal with addiction treatment?

Fagan: This is a crisis in our state, and when I was in the legislature we passed the good Samaritan law so someone can stay and help a person going through an overdoes without facing charges.

Jama: We need to treat addiction as a public health issue. It’s not a criminal charge, and we need to stop treating it as one.

Monroe: Mental health addiction on opioids is a national problem, not just an Oregon one. We need more mental health facilities.

How will you engage with diversity?

Jama: This is an easy one for me. I have brought diverse communities of immigrants and people of color together to build a strong movement.

Monroe: Our neighborhoods are becoming more diverse, which I think is a great thing.

Fagan: Even the strongest among us is no replacement for proportional representation for people of color.

Why are you running?

Monroe: I am running because of experience, which makes a difference. I have a history of working across the aisle to get things done.

Fagan: Too many of us are fighting for the stability of a normal life, and the senate has become a place where progressive ideas go to die. As a mother of two kids, I cannot wait another day for the senate to do better.

Jama: I remember trying to advocate in Salem and seeing how it is broken. I am mad as hell and want to make sure we build people’s power in this community.

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White men in bomb plot won’t get more Trump voters on jury, after judge denies request

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A judge on Wednesday said no to three Kansas residents who requested to have Trump voters on their jury as they’re tried for attempting to bomb a mosque and a Somali refugee community.

Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen were denied their request to include voters from a Trump-voting region in Kansas in their jury pool. The three men will be tried in the city of Wichita for plotting to use truck bombs in an apartment complex with a Somali refugee population and a mosque on the day after the 2016 presidential election, in Garden City, Kansas.

The jury pool will draw from Wichita and Hutchinson, more urban areas than Garden City, but Wright, Stein and Allen wanted people who “live in rural areas and are more politically conservative,” according to High Plains Public Radio.
They asked to draw from 28 counties in Dodge City, located in western Kansas. District Judge Eric Melgren said that their request did not have a legal basis, and they did not show that the current jury pool areas would discriminate against Republicans.

The men are charged with conspiracy against civil rights and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and they have pleaded not guilty. Their defense lawyers allege the men were exercising their free speech rights and right to bear arms.

The thinking behind the request, according to the lawyer, was that one area’s residents have different beliefs and would be able to understand the men’s motives. In one area, two-thirds of residents voted for Trump, and in the other area the men wanted to pool from, three-fourths of residents voted for the Republican, according to Mercury News.

The men were part of a group connected to the “Kansas Security Force,” a local militia group, prosecutors said. According to prosecutors and a wiretap transcript they obtained, Wright said he wanted the attack on Somalis in Kansas to “wake people up,” the publication added.

At the time, the government said that setting that precedent for the jury pool would “wreak havoc” and open a “dangerous door” to similar jury pool requests. The trial, which was scheduled to start in February, is set to begin on March 19 in Wichita, according to the Associated Press

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Columbus, Ohio

Judge set to sentence Ohio man who plotted US attacks

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COLUMBUS — A federal judge on Friday is scheduled to sentence an Ohio man who plotted to kill military members in the U.S. following a delay in the case when a previous judge withdrew.

Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, who was born in Somalia but came to the U.S. as a child, was arrested in 2015 and pleaded guilty to plotting those attacks after becoming radicalized in Syria. The attacks were never carried out.

The government said Mohamud became a citizen to obtain a U.S. passport. He bought a ticket to Greece with a stop in Turkey, where he disembarked before going to Syria, prosecutors said in court documents. They said he never intended to go to Greece.

Prosecutors, who are seeking a 23-year sentence, said Mohamud wanted to travel to Texas and capture three or four soldiers and execute them. They said Mohamud, now 26, was trained in Syria and tried to cover up dangerous terrorist activity.

Mohamud and his lawyer, in asking for leniency, have said Mohamud had realized “the immoral and illegal nature of terrorist ideology” and abandoned any plans to engage in terrorism.

Mohamud’s attorney, Sam Shamansky, is asking Judge Michael Watson to consider the light sentence a federal judge in Minnesota handed down in 2016 to a Minnesota man.

In that case, Abdullahi Yusuf, just 20 at the time of sentencing, was convicted of conspiring to join the Islamic State in Syria. Yusuf, who cooperated with prosecutors and testified against others, was sentenced to time served in jail of 21 months, plus two decades of supervised release.

Mohamud was originally scheduled to be sentenced in August. Judge James Graham started that hearing, but in a surprise move, he announced he was delaying it to gather more information, including Mohamud’s current state of mind.

Graham also said he wanted information about possible treatment programs for Mohamud during and after prison.

Graham ordered a psychological evaluation of Mohamud and set a new sentencing date. But in December, Graham abruptly withdrew from the case without explanation.

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