UK: Anti-deportation activists face trial under terrorism-related charges

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Anti-deportation activists face trial under terrorism-related charges
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"On Monday a group of fifteen people will appear in court in Chelmsford, charged with terrorism offences. Their crime? Blocking the take-off of a plane deporting people from Britain against their will. The maximum sentence? Life in prison.

The plane in question was a charter flight set to remove 57 people in a mass deportation in March last year. For many of us in Britain, mass deportations of this style are something we know little or nothing of – and that’s no coincidence. These secret flights don’t carry regular passengers, just deportees and double their number in private security guards. The flights take off late at night from undisclosed locations, hiding them from public view.

The process isn’t just secretive – it is brutal and legally dubious too."

See: Activists are being charged under terrorism laws for the first time in Britain – this sets a dangerous precedent (The Independent, link) by Caroline Lucas MP

A protest is being held outside the court in Chelmsford, where today the trial begins. Each of the group of 15 is charged with:

"obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity and organising or taking part in a demonstration likely to interfere or obstruct Stansted Airport and members of the group will also stand trial charged with terror offences under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act."

See: Stansted 15 trial sees huge protest planned outside Chelmsford Crown Court to support defendants accused of terrorism offences (Essex Live, link)

For a detailed discussion of the wider issues around the case, see: Deportation and direct action in Britain: the ‘terrorist trial’ of the Stansted 15(OpenDemocracy, link):

"The severity of the charge faced by the Stansted 15 should be seen as an important moment in defining the scope for non-violent protest in the UK."

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