Belfast Telegraph

Former IRA man to remain in US prison

By Sean O'Driscoll In New York
24 July 2004

A FORMER IRA member is to remain in a Pennsylvania jail after a judge refused to release him on charges of trying to disguise terrorism convictions on a US immigration form.

The family of 46-year-old Joseph Black expressed anger at yesterday's decision and said that the detention was totally unnecessary.

Court documents said that Black had been a member of the D Company of the Belfast IRA and that he served three years in prison in the 1970s for IRA membership and for a kneecapping.

The Pennsylvania judge ordered that Black remain in jail until US officials draft a pre-sentencing report on Black's crimes in Belfast and the reasons for his entry into the US.

It is likely that Black will be sent back to Ireland after the judge considers the report.

Black was arrested last Wednesday week after he flew into Philadelphia for his niece's wedding. After initial questioning by the FBI's joint terrorism task force he was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He has travelled to the US with his wife and three children and had been expected to deliver a reading at his niece's wedding in Pittsburgh.

After yesterday's hearing, his US-based brother-in-law, Sean McClorey, said that the family had expected that Black would be either released or sent back to Ireland.

"This has cast a shadow over my daughter's wedding and compromised Joe's business back in Belfast.

"It is totally, totally unnecessary Mr McClorey said.

Mr McClorey said that his brother-in-law had not rejoined the IRA after his release from prison and had never shown any support for dissident republicans.

He accused the US authorities of using the case to grab anti-terrorism headlines.

Black has been charged with giving false replies on a US government form and with using other documents to make false claims to the US government.

The charges relate to a form filled out by all visitors to the US in which applicants are asked if they have ever been convicted of a terrorism charge.

Black is alleged to have claimed on the form that he had never been convicted on a terrorism charge.

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