UK charges Muslim activist after stop-and-search arrest

Muhammad Rabbani of CAGE refused to give passwords to police after arrest at Heathrow airport, says campaign group.

    Rabbani was arrested at Heathrow airport in November [Source: CAGE]
    Rabbani was arrested at Heathrow airport in November [Source: CAGE]

    British police have charged the UK director of the campaign group CAGE after his arrest at London’s Heathrow airport in November last year.

    Muhammad Rabbani, 36, faces three months in prison and a fine of $3,200 for alleged "wilful obstruction and frustration of a search".

    In a statement, CAGE said Rabbani was formally informed of the charges at Bethnal Green police station in east London on Wednesday.

    It alleges Rabbani was asked to hand over passwords to devices he was carrying at the time of his arrest.

    "Rabbani was unable to hand over the passwords to his devices as he was carrying crucial evidence taken from a torture survivor and did not have permission from the client to share the information," the statement by CAGE said.

    "Rabbani has taken a principled stance to protect the right to privacy in an ongoing case of torture that implicates high-ranking officials."

    A statement by the Metropolitan Police, which covers the London area, confirmed that Rabbani was charged on Wednesday.

    Stop and search

    Rabbani was held at the airport under Schedule 7 powers which allow authorities at ports of entry to stop and search individuals without grounds for suspicion.

    Anything carried by a person when stopped, such as electronic devices and data storage drives, can be searched and seized by the authorities if they deem it necessary.

    Failure to comply with requests made by officers carrying out a search can result in criminal charges under the British Terrorism Act.

    Rabbani said he was justified in his response to the request to hand over the passwords.

    "I do believe I am doing what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances in order to protect the privacy of a client."

    CAGE, which was founded in 2003, is an NGO that advocates for individuals affected by British terror legislation both within the country and abroad.

    Rabbani is currently on bail and due to appear before magistrates on June 20.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.