Climate Change Activist Stopped from Travelling to Copenhagen

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

Climate Change Activist Stopped from Travelling to Copenhagen

Chris Kitchen held under anti-terrorist legislation • Activist planned to attend UN summit protest talks

by
Paul Lewis

UK border police 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.

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.

Kitchen is a prominent activist who has taken
place in a number of peaceful acts of civil disobedience, such as
glueing himself to a statue in parliament, to call for more action to
cut carbon emissions.

"The
use of anti-terrorist legislation like this is another example of
political policing, of the government harassing and intimidating people
practising their hard earned democratic rights," he said. "We are going
to Copenhagen to take part in Climate Justice Action because we want to
protest against false solutions like carbon trading and to build a
global movement for effective, socially just solutions.

"People
who are practising civil disobedience on climate change in the face of
ineffectual government action are certainly not terrorists, and I am
sure that their actions will be vindicated by history."

Kitchen
said police paid for a ticket for him to return to London after
questioning and arranged for the coach company to give him a seat on
another coach.

A Home Office spokesman said: "There has been no
change in policy. Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 enables an
examining officer to stop, search and examine a person at a port or in
a border area to determine whether they are someone who is or has been
concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of
terrorism.

"The exercise of the powers by the police is an operational matter for each force."

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