Daily archives: December 28, 2005

Another blow to the UK government’s ban on free speech – Catholics commemorate the dead inside the exclusion zone. No arrests made.

From the BBC

Iraq protest in ‘demo ban zone’

More demonstrators have gathered in an “exclusion zone” to test the limits of a law banning protests without the police authorisation.

Catholic peace group Pax Christi read out names of children killed in the Iraq conflict at Downing Street.

Members said prayers at the event, which did not have police permission, but officers chose not to intervene.

Maya Evans, who read out names at the Cenotaph of soldiers killed in Iraq, has been convicted under the new law.

The 25-year-old was found guilty of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which covers a half-mile area around Parliament, and given a conditional discharge.

Since her conviction, others have been testing the new law – originally designed to evict peace protester Brian Haw, whose anti-war vigil has been a fixture in Parliament Square for four years.

He remains in the square, having successfully fought his case in the High Court.

On 21 December, about 100 carol singers gathered in Parliament Square, but no-one was arrested.

Pax Christi’s British chairman Stuart Hemsley told the BBC News website he read out the names of 29 British soldiers with children, who had been killed in Iraq.

The group also picked out the names of 50 Iraqi children aged five and under.

“We had no problems from the police whatsoever, they just stood there looking stony-faced. It was as if we weren’t there.

“I am not disappointed I have not been arrested but I wonder if this will now set a precedent.”

He said the group of 15 wanted to pray and worship at the seat of power in the hope they would continue to raise awareness of the situation in Iraq.

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Alleged MI6 torturer back in Britain – but will he face justice?

From the Telegraph

An alleged MI6 station chief in Athens has been recalled to Britain “for his own safety” after being identified by a Greek newspaper.

It reported that he had taken part in the abduction and brutal interrogation of Pakistanis.

As the Government placed a gag order to stop British media from naming the alleged spy, who is officially accredited as a diplomat, a well-placed Greek security source said his recall was “not done as punishment or as retribution of any kind for the unfavourable turn of events”.

He added: “It is more of a standard precautionary measure because his intelligence role can no longer be effective in Greece.”

The Foreign Office declined to comment yesterday. It merely noted that Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, had previously dismissed as “utter nonsense” claims by the Pakistani workers to have been beaten by British and Greek counter-terrorism officers last July as they investigated links to the London bombings.

One claimed he had a gun put in his mouth as he was questioned about telephone calls to London and Pakistan.

Proto Thema, a Greek magazine, said the MI6 station chief had taken part in the interrogations with a second MI6 officer who was not named.

It also unmasked 15 Greek intelligence officials in revelations denounced by Athens as illegal “because they endanger national security”.

Greek authorities said they had had to recall two of their intelligence agents from Kosovo.

The alleged spy has previously been identified as an MI6 officer on the internet and in allegations made by Richard Tomlinson, a renegade MI6 officer.

Seven of the 28 detainees, who say they were held for several days then set free without charge, have lodged official complaints in Athens.

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