My phone is not being returned to me by police as, astonishingly, I am now formally under investigation for terrorism. Whether this relates to support for Palestine or for Wikileaks has currently not been made clear.
What follows is, unspun and unvarnished, my account of my interview under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act as given to my lawyers:
I arrived from Keflavik airport, Iceland to Glasgow airport at about 10am on Monday 16 October. After passport control I was stopped by three police officers, two male and one female, who asked me to accompany them to a detention room.
They seated me in the room and told me:
I was detained under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act
I was not arrested but detained, and therefore had no right to a lawyer.
I had no right to remain silent. I had to give full and accurate information in response to questions. It was a criminal offence to withhold any relevant information.
I had to give up any passwords to my devices. It was a criminal offence not to do this.
They searched my baggage and my coat, going through my documents and taking my phone and laptop. They did not look at one document from Julian Assange’s lawyers that I told them was privileged.
They asked me about boarding cards for Brussels and Dublin they found and what I had been doing there. I replied I was at a debate at Trinity College in Dublin, while in Brussels I had attended a human rights meeting focused on the case of Julian Assange.
They asked me to identify the individuals from some visiting cards I had from the Brussels meeting (one was a German MP).
They asked me the purpose of my visit to Iceland. I told them that I was attending a coordinating meeting of the campaign to free Julian Assange. I said I had also attended a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Icelandic parliament, but that had not been a prior intention.
They asked how I earnt my living. I said from two sources: voluntary subscriptions to my blog, and my civil service pension.
They asked what organisations I am a member of. I said the Alba party. I said I worked with Wikileaks and the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign, but was not formally a “member” of either. I was a life member of the FDA union. No other organisations.
They asked if I received any money from Wikileaks, from Don’t Extradite Assange or from the Assange family (separate questions). I replied no, except occasional travel expenses from Don’t Extradite Assange. In December I had done a tour of Germany and received a fee from the Wau Holland Foundation, a German free speech charity.
They asked what other campaigns I had been involved in. I said many, from the Anti-Nazi League and Anti-Apartheid movement on. I had campaigned for Guantanamo inmates alongside Caged Prisoners.
They asked why I had attended the pro-Palestine demo in Iceland. I said one of the speakers had invited me, Ögmundur Jónasson. He was a former Icelandic Interior Minister. I said I did not know what the speeches said as they were all in Icelandic.
They asked whether I intended to attend any pro-Palestinian rallies in the UK. I said I had no plans but probably would.
They asked how I judged whether to speak alongside others on the same platform. I replied I depended on organisers I trusted, like the Palestine Solidarity Committee or Stop the War. It was impossible to know who everyone was at a big rally.
They asked if anyone else posted to my twitter or blog. I replied no, it was all me.
They asked how considered my tweets were. I replied that those which were links to my blog posts were my considered writing. Others were more ephemeral, and like everyone else I sometimes made mistakes and sometimes apologised. They asked if I deleted tweets and I said very seldom.
I volunteered that I thought I understood the tweet that worried them and agreed it could have been more nuanced. This was the limitation of twitter. It was intended to refer only to the current situation within Gaza and the Palestinian people’s right of self-defence from genocide.
That was more or less it. The interview was kept to exactly an hour and at one point one said to another “18 minutes left”. They did not tell me why. At one point they did mention protected journalistic material on my laptop but I was too dazed to take advantage of this and specify anything.
They took my bank account details and copies of all my bank cards.
This is an enormous abuse of human rights. The abuse of process in refusing both a lawyer and the right to remain silent, the inquiry into perfectly legal campaigning which is in no way terrorism-associated, the political questioning, the financial snooping and the seizure of material related to my private life, were all based on an utterly fake claim that I am associated with terrorism.
I have to date not been arrested and not charged. Contempt of court is therefore not in play and you are free to comment on the case (although in the current atmosphere any kind of free thought is liable to vicious state action). I am safe and currently in Dublin. I intend next to travel to Switzerland to take this up with the United Nations.
My legal team have already made a submission against this outrage to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and are looking at the possibility of judicial review in the UK. We also have to prepare the defence against possible terrorism charges, ludicrous as that sounds.
I am afraid this all costs money. I am grateful for the unfailing generosity of people in what seems a continual history of persecution.
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