US Court rules against West Belfast man

The father of West Belfast man left to languish in a US jail for almost two years has spoken of his disappointment after a Colorado court ordered his continued detention last week.

Former republican prisoner Ciarán Ferry was detained by immigration officials in January 2003 during a routine green card interview in Colorado.
Three years earlier the Lenadoon man and his wife Heaven, a Colorado native, moved to the United States where Ciarán sought to obtain a green card.

The former POW, who was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, was detained after attending a scheduled meeting with immigration officials. During the time of his detention he has been denied physical contact with both his wife and three-year-old daughter Fiona.

Last Thursday lawyers acting for the Lenadoon man made an application for a writ of Habeas Corpus, which would declare his continued detention illegal.

However, his attempt to gain freedom was blocked when a sitting of the United States District Court of Colorado ruled against the application.
Now the former republican prisoner will continue to be detained while an application to remain in the United State is processed.

Last night Ciarán's father Gerry spoke of the family's disappointment at the latest twist in his son's case.

"We are very disappointed," said Gerry. "We were hoping that he would have been released. We really want this matter resolved as soon as possible. We thought he might even have been sent home last week but that didn't even happen.

"There are other people facing deportation at the minute but they have been given their freedom while their situation is assessed but Ciarán is being kept in jail."

The Colorado court ruled that because Ciarán entered the US under the visa waiver scheme he had relinquished all his 'constitutional rights'.

"In our argument, it is irrelevant that Ciarán had entered under the visa waiver programme," said his attorney Eamonn Dornan. "Ciarán had clear and unfettered due process rights streaming from his status as the spouse of a US citizen.

"The heart and soul of our constitution provides that due process forbids the government from arbitrarily causing an alien who has entered the country to be taken into custody and deported without giving him all opportunity to be heard upon the questions involving his right to be and remain in the United States."

Journalist:: Connla Young

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