Repression

4 December 2020News

Police 'counter-terror' guide brands Extinction Rebellion as 'extremist'

Young people who speak emotionally about climate change might be extremists who need to be reported to the authorities. That was the message of a regional police ‘counter-terror’ guide labelling nonviolent campaigning groups as ‘extremist’. A second (national-level) police document which warned of groups like CND and Greenpeace is being challenged by CND, Trident Ploughshares and others.

The first guide, Safeguarding young people and adults from ideological extremism, was…

1 June 2019News

Assange faces 175 years in prison as Manning reimprisoned

Julian Assange, London, 2014. Photo: david G Silvers [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Julian Assange is facing 175 years in prison for his investigative journalism if he is extradited to the US and convicted of the 18 charges filed against him by the US government.

Meanwhile, US whistleblower Chelsea Manning was jailed on 16 May for refusing (for a second time) to give evidence against the WikiLeaks founder.

Assange is being charged under the US Espionage Act 1917, mainly for obtaining…

1 April 2019Feature

Chelsea Manning reimprisoned

Photo: Manolo Luna [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the US military, is again imprisoned in a US jail. On International Women’s Day, 8 March, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, Virginia, federal detention centre for refusing to testify in front of a secretive grand jury. [In the US system of law, grand juries decide (in secret)…

1 December 2018News in Brief

On 21 November, Scotland’s supreme civil court, the court of session, ruled that the UK and Scottish governments acted correctly in not extending the Undercover Policing Inquiry north of the border.

The judicial review was brought by Tilly Gifford, an activist who was herself targeted by the police for surveillance.

She said: ‘This is a massively disappointing decision by the court. Our evidence is clear and sound – there has been undercover policing in Scotland, and it…

1 August 2018News

London and Glasgow conferences mark 50 years since the formation of Britain's undercover political police squad

Dave Morris, one of the organisers of the ‘1968-2018: A Celebration of 50 years of Resistance, despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression’ conference at Conway Hall.photo: PN

The issue of undercover policing gained more attention in June because of a brave stand by Lush, the vegetarian/vegan cosmetics company. Then the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) and COPS Scotland held conferences in London and Glasgow on 7 July and 23 June, marking 50…

1 April 2018Feature

An internal manual for infiltrating activist groups, written by disgraced undercover police officer Andy Coles, has been made public by the Undercover Policing Inquiry

Andy Coles

On 19 March, the Undercover Policing Inquiry (led until July 2017 by Christopher Pitchford) posted the previously-secret Special Demonstration Squad Tradecraft Manual on its website (see accompanying article for extracts). The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was a section of Special Branch, the British political police, devoted to undercover operations, which existed between 1968 and 2008.…

1 April 2018News

Doreen Lawrence says chair turning hearing into 'inquiry cloaked in secrecy and anonymity'

People targeted by undercover police walk out of the Undercover Policing Inquiry at the high court in London on 21 March. Photo: Razbigor

Dramatic developments in the #spycops scandal unfolded on 21 March, when people targeted by undercover police, their lawyer and their supporters walked out of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) being held at the high court in London.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence backed the walk-out, saying that the chair of the inquiry, sir John Mitting, was…

1 April 2018News

Terrorism charges followed arrival of British undercover cop, documents reveal

On 18 March, French prosecutors finally admitted that they were relying on information supplied by British undercover police officer Mark Kennedy, in a case against the Tarnac group of French activists, in a trial due to close just after PN goes to press.

Kennedy, who used the name ‘Mark Stone’ while undercover, was sent to France to spy on the Tarnac group in June 2008 as an officer of the UK national public order intelligence unit (NPOIU), according to secret NPOIU documents…

1 April 2018Review

Verso, 2017; 224pp; £14.99

This book grapples with the puzzling, and seemingly sudden, political trend that has seen much of mainstream European politics shift firmly into the right (and arguably further).

Fekete offers a multifaceted approach to understanding the rise of far-right politicians such as Marine Le Pen in France and outcomes such as Brexit – developments which have baffled the left – as well as the racism underlying these currents.

She rigorously argues that governments across the…

1 October 2017News

Muslim human rights activist convicted for not surrendering passwords

On 25 September, a Muslim human rights activist was found guilty by Westminster magistrates of the crime of not handing over the passwords to his phone and laptop.

Muhammad Rabbani, international director of Muslim anti-repression group CAGE, ‘wilfully obstructed’ an examination under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow airport last November (see PN 2606–2607). He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £620 in costs.

Rabbani…

1 August 2017News

Evidence to Pichford inquiry unlikely to be heard until mid-2019

The Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing continues its frustrating, meandering path, bogged down in procedural issues.

The honest picture is that very little is coming out of the inquiry at the moment. To the alarm of many involved, we are being told that evidence is unlikely to be heard until mid-2019. That is five years after the inquiry was first announced, nine since undercover police officer Mark Kennedy was first exposed.

Much of the work done to date…

3 June 2017Feature

A PN worker remembers a narrow escape with a police infiltrator

16 March 1991: Undercover police officer Andy Coles (calling himself ‘Andy Davey’) tries to cover his face as he is photographed next to PN editor Milan Rai in a pub in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after an anti-war protest at a nearby US base. PHOTO: NOOR ADMANI

In 1991, I was living in London and involved in a nonviolent direct action affinity group called ARROW (Active Resistance to the Roots of War). The group had started with direct action against the 1991 Gulf War, and then broadened…

1 June 2017Feature

PN's editor recalls his experience of a 'police triple-decker sandwich'

(L-R) David Polden, ‘Andy Davey’, Pippa Gibbins, Andrea Needham. PHOTO: NOOR ADMANI 

My clearest memory of ‘Andy Davey’, the undercover police officer Andy Coles, is a bizarre moment that I would now describe as a ‘police triple-decker sandwich’.

On 10 February 1991, Christian peace activist Chris Cole and I had broken into the US air force base at Fairford in Gloucestershire to protest against the B-52 raids carried out from the base. (The B-52s were bombing Iraq.)

We had…

1 February 2017News in Brief

Sam Archie: On 17 January, in one of his last acts as US president, Barack Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence from 35 years down to seven years. The transgender military whistleblower is now scheduled to be released on 17 May. (PN is holding a party at Housmans bookshop – see p10. )

Veterans for Peace UK said: ‘Among her achievements was to prove to other military personnel that they were correct to question the wars and entitled to refuse, resist and…

1 October 2016Feature

The second part of our interview with Liz Fekete, director of the Institute of Race Relations

Liz Fekete speaks in the post-Brexit debate at PN Summer Camp. Photo: Roy St PIERRE

A black woman spoke up from the audience at a public meeting held earlier this year, to launch a new issue of Race and Class, the journal of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). She was a teacher, struggling with the new legal duty on teachers to monitor and report signs of ‘nonviolent extremism’ among their students. Children were becoming frightened to express their opinions. What was she…