“Murder in Samarkand” confiscated by airport staff – again


From The Guardian

The war on terror moves in mysterious ways. Last month, not long after the allegedly planned terrorist attacks on multiple jetliners over the Atlantic were foiled, Ben Paarman turned up at Luton airport for a flight to Berlin. Having forgotten to remove toiletries from his hand luggage, he was hauled over for further inspection, and two books were discovered. A German novel passed without comment, but Murder in Samarkand, Craig Murray’s memoir of his incident-strewn stint as British ambassador to Uzbekistan, didn’t. “‘Is that about terrorism?’ asked the lady that examined my onboard luggage,” wrote Paarman on neweurasia.net, a collection of blogs by and about Central Asians. “‘Humm, well, it contains mentions of that, but it’s about your former ambassador to Uzbekistan and more about diplomacy,’ I replied politely. ‘Does it have al-Qaeda in it?’ I looked a bit confused. ‘Well, I have to check this with my manager, the rest of your stuff is fine, though.'” The manager arrived, asked Paarman where he got the book (Waterstone’s, Islington), then pronounced: “I am afraid you cannot take this onboard, Sir.” The book was duly confiscated. This much has already been mentioned, in this paper. But then it happened again.

On Monday Gillian Davison, an actress on her way to New York, reported on the blog that she had had her copy of the same book confiscated at Heathrow. Murray has offered to replace Paarman’s copy – and consulted lawyers. “The lawyers said that the first time it might have been just a mistake, not policy,” he replied this week, to an email from the Guardian asking how far this course of action had gone, “but twice at two different airports looks like a policy. We are strongly minded to go to the High Court for an injunction under the Human Rights Act.”

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