WikiLeaks lawyer, on ‘inhibited person’ travel list, stopped at airport

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Thu Apr 19 08:00:55 PDT 2012

WikiLeaks lawyer, on binhibited personb travel list, stopped at airport

by Bernard Keane

Australian human rights lawyer and WikiLeaks supporter Jennifer Robinson
appears to have been placed on a travel watch list and was prevented from
leaving the UK this morning until approval was secured from the Australian
High Commission.

Robinson was returning to Australia to speak at the same conference as
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon tomorrowb	bb	the Commonwealth Lawyersb
Associationbs Regional Law Conferenceb	bb	on the apt subject of bLawyers in the
firing lineb. Roxon is giving an address on human rights.

Robinson was stopped when checking in at Heathrow early this morning
Australian time and told she was an binhibited personb and that approval from
the Australian High Commission would be needed before she was allowed to
proceed. She tweeted

    Security guard: byou must have done something controversialb because we
have to phone the embassy. bCertain government agenciesb list.

Intriguingly, however, no Australian agency uses the term binhibited personb.
A DIAC spokesman told Crikey bthe only mechanism that would restrict uplift
of a person to Australia is the Movement Alert List (MAL).b

The government doesnbt discuss who is on the MAL, but it is understood it
would be highly unusual for an Australian to be on the MAL.

This raises the possibility that, in spite of what she was told, Robinson was
stopped not at the behest of an Australian agency but a foreign agency. In
December, Robinson was in the US to monitor the pre-trial hearing of Bradley
Manning and was sharply critical of the conduct of the hearing. In January,
she confronted US Attorney-General Eric Holder about the Obama
administrationbs treatment of WikiLeaks when both of them attended the
Sundance Film Festival.

Robinson is currently en route to Hong Kong before travelling on to Sydney,
where she is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning.

A short time ago DFAT issued the following statement to Crikey:

    bWe are not aware of any Australian Government restriction applying to Ms
Robinsonbs travel. As an Australian with a valid passport, she would be free
to return to Australia at any stage. The UK border authorities or airline of
travel may be able to provide further insight on claims that she was impeded
from boarding her flight.b

The DFAT statement is a reference to the fact that airlines themselves may
stop people from boarding if they believe they may not be permitted to enter
their destination country, leaving the airline with the cost of returning
them to their point of departure. As Robinson is an Australian, however, this
clearly would not have applied to her.

Crikey is seeking comment from the UK Border Agency.

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