Five prison inmates convicted over a terrorist plot in Sydney have complained of poor treatment in prison, threatening hunger strikes if their security conditions were not relaxed.
Thirteen inmates from the 'Supermax' Goulburn Correctional Centre signed the letter but Mohamed Ali Elomar, Abdul Rhakib Hasan, Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho and Mohammed Omar Jamal were among the group.
Those five were jailed in 2010 for between 23 and 28 years over a terrorist plot and are subject to more severe conditions than most inmates due to the Extreme High Risk-Rated (EHRR) status.
The inmates complained that their prison stipend of $13 per week was not enough to purchase halal meals, which cost $32 per week.
They are banned from receiving any money from outside of the prison.
“We actually have to PAY for them at a cost of $32 per week,’ the letter reads.
“This is impossible to afford at $13 per week.”
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The correspondence was revealed in a new book by Daily Telegraph journalist James Phelps, Australia’s Toughest Prisons: Inmates.
New conditions were placed on EHRR prisoners last year, meaning they have access to just four phone calls per week, instead of six for ordinary prisoners.
Phone calls cost $2.20 each and were closely monitored. All written correspondence must be completed in English.
The letter also said changes to visiting rules had made it more difficult to maintain contact with their families.
“These new EHRR restrictions … are oppressive and inhumane and have cut us off from our families and friends,” the letter said.
They wrote that approved family and friends could only visit them inside a sheet metal-lined room which only had space for four chairs.
They said they were “locked in a box without adequate ventilation”, while one complained an 11 year old visitor had suffered an anxiety attack within minutes of entering “the box”.
The letter said visits would be terminated if someone needed to use bathroom facilities.
The document eventually found its way to the desk of NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin, and said the inmates would continue a hunger strike unless their complaints were reviewed urgently.