Bristol Climate Justice Activist Stopped from leaving country under Terror Act

by imcvol
on Monday 19 Oct 2009

type: Feature
topic: Protests
region: South West
OSCAILTIMAGE(attachments/oct2009/greenscarecover.jpg 300 400)

Jack Sheppard writes: I'm too tired to write a separate article but one additional quote from the coppers who interviewed us: "95% of people we stop under this legislation aren't terrorists". This shouldn't make people afraid of travelling to Copenhagen - or any other international mobilisation - but any travel plans should take this into consideration.

UK border police (Kent Constabulary) used anti-terrorist legislation to prevent a British climate change activist from crossing over into mainland Europe where he planned to take part in events surrounding the forthcoming United Nations summit in Denmark.

Chris Kitchen, a 31-year-old office worker, said he feared his treatment by police could mark the start of a clampdown on protesters, hundreds of whom are planning to travel to Copenhagen for the climate change talks in December.

Tonight he will make a second attempt to reach Denmark, where he plans to take part in discussions organised by a network of protest groups coming together under the banner Climate Justice Action.

He said he was prevented from crossing the border yesterday at about 5pm, when the coach he was travelling on stopped at the Folkestone terminal of the Channel tunnel.

"On our second try to get to Copenhagen we we're reminded that we were relatively lucky, when 2 "Sans Papiers" were removed from our coach at 3.00am - probably to a German Detention Centre"

Kitchen said police officers boarded the coach and, after checking all passengers' passports, took him and another climate activist to be interviewed under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, a clause which enables border officials to stop and search individuals to determine if they are connected to terrorism.

The passports were not initially scanned, Kitchen said, suggesting the officials knew his name and had planned to remove him from the coach before they boarded. During his interview, he was asked questions about his family, work and past political activity. The police also asked him what he intended to do in Copenhagen.

When Kitchen said that anti-terrorist legislation does not apply to environmental activists, he said the officer replied that terrorism "could mean a lot of things". By the time his 30-minute interview had concluded, Kitchen's coach had gone.

Police are understood to be monitoring protesters on a number of databases, some of which highlight individuals when they pass through secure areas, such as ports.

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