UK anti-terrorist police detain Anarchist Federation member

UK anti-terrorist police detain Anarchist Federation member

Two anarchists returning to the UK from a conference in Switzerland were detained, denied a solicitor and interrogated by counter-terrorist officers.

For the past week, thousands of anarchists from across the world have been converging in St.Imier, Switzerland to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist international. The gathering took the form of a festival and educational, with music, films and entertainment as well as workshops and discussions.

On returning from the St Imier gathering, two anarchists, one a member of the UK Anarchist Federation, were detained for nearly two hours at Heathrow by SO15 (counter-terrorist) intelligence who initially refused to identify themselves to the detainees. During the detention, the anarchists were told that their normal rights did not apply, and had their names, addresses, email addresses, DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken. The detained anarchists were also forced to sign forms – which may or may not be legal – waiving their rights to silence and a solicitor. Police also conducted a thorough search of personal possessions, photocopied literature and passports and took information from phones and cameras.

During the detention, the police constantly accused the anarchists of lying about involvement in criminal activity and alleged that they would be conducting follow-up police action against one of the detained anarchists. In addition to this, SO15 officers asked a number of inflammatory, irrelevant and offensive questions, including ‘what would you do if someone raped your mother?’ evidently in an attempt to cause emotional upset and illicit angry or violent responses. One member (28) who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the police, said “We were treated like criminals. I told them I went to the congress as I am an amateur journalist and I write articles about activism. They saw my note book, camera and Dictaphone but they said I was lying.” One officer said ‘You said you are an anarchist, I’ve seen anarchists on the news, they are violent, throw molotov cocktails and disrupt people’s lives not write articles”.

The counter terrorist officers either didn’t know or chose to ignore that, during the first day of the gathering, the International of Anarchist Federations (Of which the UK Anarchist Federation is a member) had issued a statement rejecting all terrorist tactics as a means of achieving an anarchist society.

In contrast to the actions of the UK security forces, the local press and residents in St.Imier reported very positively on the anarchist gathering.

With this incident, we are seeing a further slide towards political policing and the criminalisation of political ideologies. The two detained anarchists have not had any involvement in any illegal or violent activity, or any activity that would concern the counter-terrorist police. As in the past, when Metropolitan police called on people to give information about local anarchists ( Anarchists should be reported, advises Westminster anti-terror police | UK news | The Guardian ), anarchists suffered harassment for their political viewpoint.
As class-struggle anarchists, we believe that the state does little except serve the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. This is seen clearly when people who hold views critical of the state are treated as criminals and terrorists. We seek to create a classless society, based on freedom, equality and co-operation. We believe in the capacity of ordinary people to run society themselves, without the interference of bosses or politicians. This incident was not in response to any crime and constitutes repression and criminalisation of a political ideology.


Posted By

Aug 16 2012 18:28


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klas batalo
Aug 16 2012 18:37

totes fucked. passed on to my organizations. let folks know if any solidarity becomes needed.

Aug 16 2012 18:45

Sorry to hear this happened. I met a bunch of Afed comrades when I was over. Hope everyone is home safe and sound, I am.

Ben from Montana

Aug 16 2012 18:57

This is fucking criminal, although I do not like when it says its a move towards political policing as if policing is not political normal.

Aug 16 2012 22:13

who do they think they are to have the permission to do this. the AFed members should sue the fuck out of these numpties. border police are grade A arseholes, i mean honestly, how can anyone make a living bullying migrant workers without visas and still feel ok with themselves?

Aug 16 2012 23:43

Solidarity friends

Joseph Kay
Aug 17 2012 06:54

This sounds like it was done under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Unusually, Schedule 7 requires no suspicion and places a positive duty on interviewees to co-operate, failure to do so being an offence under the Terrorism Act. I don't know if that extends to signing away statutory rights (I doubt it), but may include signing something saying you understand you don't have a right to a solicitor and silence (because you're not under arrest, unless you try to leave, when you'll be arrested for not co-operating). One of the more Kafkaesque laws on the statute book that's mainly been used on Muslims so far.

Edit: needless to say it's fucked up

Aug 17 2012 09:15

Agree, this is most likely to be a stop under Schedule 7. While still used predominantly on foreign nationals, Kurds, Tamils and people of Muslim appearance, (there were 85,000 stops carried out under Schedule 7 in 2009 and 2010) it does appear to be being used with greater frequency against political activists.

Under Schedule 7 you have no right to silence. You have a duty to provide any information in your possession that is requested by the examining officer. Failure to do so is an offence. You can be detained for up to nine hours. You can be searched, by force if necessary. They can search your possessions and seize anything that they believe will help them assertain whether or not you are a terrorist. You can request a solicitor, but the cost of it does is not born by the public purse, and there is no duty on them to delay the examination pending arrival of a solicitor. To do all this, they need to give no justification at all. There is no need for 'reasonable suspicion'. They can stop and detain anyone they wish under Schedule 7.

It has been used in recent years against activists, particularly animal rights and environmental activists

Schedule 7 is an utterly draconian power. Netpol (the network for police monitoring) are attempting to monitor the use of this power against political activists. We would be keen to hear, in confidence, from anyone affected. We never divulge anyone's names, and are happy to deal with people using a pseudonym. Netpol is an activist based group, which exists to resist and challenge unacceptable police practices.


Aug 17 2012 17:37

This Schedule 7 is valid only for Britain or.. ?

Joseph Kay
Aug 17 2012 18:56

I think Schedule 7 is valid only at 'ports' (any point of international entry/exit; airports, ferry terminals, international train hubs etc) for those engaged in international travel in the UK (possibly just England and/or Wales; i'm not sure how devolution effects the Terrorism Act).

Chilli Sauce
Aug 22 2012 03:24

North London Solidarity Federation solidarity statement:

The North London Solidarity Federations would like to extend our fullest solidarity to the anarchists who were wrongfully detained while returning from the St. Imier anarchist conference in Switzerland. These actions, executed by British anti-terrorist officers, at best constitute unlawful police harassment. At worst, they are illegal actions designed to intimidate and repress.

Although we are not at all surprised to see such blatant disregard for civil and legal rights by the British state, we are concerned that such actions indicate a turn towards a more aggressive policing of the global anti-capitalist movement. As such, North London SF pledges to stand in solidarity with not only these particular individuals and the organisations to which they belong--the UK Anarchist Federation in particular--but to actively participate in defending anarchists who are victims of state repression.

For further information, please refer to the statement put out by the Anarchist Federation: