Activists Accused of Blocking Stansted Flight Go On Trial Over Terror Charge

Fifteen activists who locked themselves together around an immigration removal charter flight to prevent its departure from Stansted and displayed a banner proclaiming “mass deportations kill” have gone on trial charged with a terrorist offence. Jurors at Chelmsford crown court heard how the members of the campaign group End Deportations used lock-on devices to secure themselves around the Boeing 767, chartered by the Home Office, as it waited on the tarmac at the Essex airport to remove undocumented migrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The activists have said they acted to prevent human rights abuses from taking place and have received high-profile political backing. However, they are accused of putting the safety of the airport and passengers at risk and causing serious disruption to international air travel. If convicted, they could face potential life imprisonment. Amnesty International UK is sending representatives to observe the trial owing to concerns that the serious charge has been brought to deter other activists from taking similar non-violent direct action to defend human rights. Kate Allen, its director, likened the use of the law to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Read more: Damien Gayle and Amy Gibbons, Guardian,

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