THOUSANDS of members of an on line support group are intensifying their fight to have a Teesside serviceman released from an Afghan jail after he was refused his freedom by the Afghan authorities at a court hearing. Anthony Malone 37, an ex paratrooper from Billingham is being held in Pul-i-Charkhi prison in Afghanistan for allegedly owing thousands of dollars.

After an intense two and a half hour court hearing on Monday Mr. Malone and his lawyer Kimberley Motley were informed that the original verdict was to be upheld by the court.

Mr. Malone has already served six months longer than his two-year jail sentence after he was arrested on fraud charges in January 2008. Maria Blades, Mr. Malone’s sister said: “It was stated that if Anthony agreed to pay the money owed, an undisclosed amount, he could be set free tomorrow.”

Ms. Motley argued that the total amount allegedly owed was not given, and that the names of those the money was allegedly owed to were also not apparent in any document in Mr. Malone’s file.

Mr. Malone continues to be detained for an undisclosed amount of dollars owed which is against the Constitution, Article 32.

Mr. Malone has made it very clear that he will not allow any payment of money for his release.

Miss Blades said of her brother's decision: “Anthony is a man of principle and insists on his innocence. He wants to leave Pul-i-Charkhi as a freeman with his name cleared.”

The Malone family and their Facebook supporters do not believe Mr. Malone should have to pay back any amount of money to the Afghan authorities. They are upset and appalled that Mr. Malone has been sent back to languish in his rat infested prison cell.

Ms. Motley says of the prison where Mr. Malone is being held: "It's a very, very dangerous environment especially for the likes of those that are internationals and those that have past military experience."

The prison Mr.Malone is being held in is notorious and has been dubbed the equivalent to Alcatraz. It is overcrowded, rat-infested and also houses captured Taliban fighters, jihadists and murderers. Mr. Malone has been threatened and had knives held to his throat.

Mr. Malone has said: “I am battling mentally and I’m battling physically because of the conditions.”

When the news that Mr. Malone had been denied his freedom reached the Facebook group, ‘Release Anthony Malone’ it began a frenzy of activity to step-up the campaign to release Mr. Malone.

‘Facebook group members began in earnest to plague their local M.P’s, to write to the Prime Minister, write and telephone local and international broadcasters, contact local and national newspapers, start an on-line poster campaign and the group members' have also increased the posting of the link to their on-line petition. One group member, Jan Morten said: “After listening to the interview on the radio, the authorities are now saying he owes $75000. That’s why they banged him up in the first place. Why on earth should this money be paid, he has paid it in full for the time he has spent in that prison.”

Mrs Morten has written to her local M.P, the Prime Minister and has spent everyday and night on the group exchanging information and encouraging others to join the group and sign the petition to aid with Mr. Malone’s release.

Lisa Miller said: “What’s happening to Anthony Malone is a disgrace. What’s more horrifying is that our so called elected representatives, I use the term very loosely, have sat back for more than 30 months and let this continue.”

Andy Beckwith said: “Anthony is sticking to his principles and we should all salute him for that. He is a very brave man, I do not know of many people that would do the same in his situation. I would like to think that after 8 years in Afghanistan our government would have at least some sway in the polital/legal infrastructure of the country, obviously not.” Casey Mitchell said:“Unfortunately for Anthony, the constitution in Afghanistan states that being in debt does not limit a person’s freedom or deprive him of his liberties. The mode and means of recovering a debt shall be regulated by law.”

Ms. Mitchell went on to say: “From that I take it that they have regulated the law to incarcerate him, contrary to point (I) of their own constitution. And the recent court judgement that they intend to hold Anthony until he has paid the "alleged" debt back looks like they are trying to justify point (II). From what I have read, they have still not provided any evidence of debt, to whom, for how much, for what service or goods. If you can not provide sufficient evidence in your case as an accuser, in most courts in the world, your case would be thrown out… An abomination of justice.”

Despite the recent failed court hearing, Mr. Malone’s lawyer remains optimistic that with the help of Anthony’s friends and family he will be released soon.

Ms. Motley also commented that Mr. Malone is in good spirits: “He’s just trying to get through this period. He’s also very appreciative of all the assistance he’s receiving from family and friends.”

The Facebook group members from, ‘Release Anthony Malone’ would like to thank all those who have joined the group and signed the petition to fight for Anthony’s freedom.

The petition currently stands at 3110 signatures, many more signatures are needed.

The group welcomes more members who can offer active support to Anthony Malone's plight.

To join the Facebook group copy and paste the following link into your browser:!/group.php?gid=132879203409709&ref=mf To sign the on-line petition copy and paste the following link into your browser: