Tilburg citizen who was wrongly imprisoned for terrorism fights for the truth

The 35-year-old man from Tilburg who was held in Spain for weeks on suspicion of terrorism is ‘very disappointed’ in the judge’s ruling. On Tuesday, he rejected his request that the Dutch government help him to make it clear to Spain that he is not a terrorist. “I am dumbfounded and it is difficult for me,” Rayan* responds to the statement. The Tilburg citizen announces that he will continue to fight to uncover the truth.

Written by

Arnold Tankus

Rayan from Tilburg, with Moroccan roots, was on his way to Morocco last summer. He was arrested during his transit through Spain. He spent 56 days in jail and was then put on a plane to the Netherlands in September. According to Rayan, all this happened based on information from the Dutch authorities. They had wrongly put him on a so-called alert list. A list of names of possible terrorists.

The judge now rules that the Dutch State does not have to clear his name. So the Spanish government does not have to announce that Rayan has never been suspected of terrorism. “It is a great disappointment that our claims have been rejected. However, there are also positive aspects to the ruling,” says Samira Sabir, Rayan’s lawyer.

According to the country’s attorney, Rayan was ‘not on any list’, not even on a list that went abroad. “In this way, the Dutch government actually guarantees that nothing belonging to him has been processed,” says the lawyer. “We still don’t know whether that is really the case. You can also conclude from the judge’s ruling that he is not completely convinced of this,” says Sabir.

The court sees Rayan’s interest in using the correct information in his Spanish lawsuit, but this interest does not go so far that the State can be obliged to provide that information directly to the Spanish authorities, the court said.

“I am now investigating whether I am on a list in Morocco.”

For Rayan, the grapes remain sour. In any case, he cannot travel through Spain for the next ten years. And maybe even worse. “I am now investigating whether I am on a list in Morocco. That would not be surprising, since Spain and Morocco collaborate intensively in this area. Driving to Morocco via Spain has been part of the journey since I was young. It’s a piece of nostalgia and that’s no longer possible, even though I never did anything. I could take a detour, but I might also be on a list in other countries.”

“I am smeared with terrorism. My life is at a standstill.”

Despite the disappointment of the ruling, he does not want to stop. “There are still several access requests. I want the truth to come to light,” he says combatively. For the time being, he is very troubled by what happened to him. “It was humiliating. I have been smeared with terrorism, I have been searched in intimate places and my dignity has been violated. I have been accused of something that I have or do not want to have anything to do with.”

According to his lawyer, Rayan is ‘very combative’ and there will certainly be a next step. “I fully support him in that respect. We will discuss together what the follow-up will look like.”

“I couldn’t have done anything, because I didn’t do anything.”

His “life has come to a standstill” since he was arrested in Spain, Rayan says. Even now that he is back in the Netherlands. “I’ve often wondered what I could have done. But I couldn’t have done anything, because I didn’t do anything.” He says he continues to worry, has a lot of stress and no rest. Working is certainly not possible at the moment. “I am self-employed, so nothing is coming in at the moment. I sought help from a psychologist, but yes, there are queues for that. I don’t know how long that will take. It is clear to me that I need help.”

*For privacy reasons, we use Rayan as a pseudonym.

The state does not have to share information about Tilburg citizens arrested in Spain

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