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Apr 19, 2012

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

Human rights lawyer Jen Robinson has been stopped while returning to Australia as an "inhibited person". Who did it and why?

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 tomorrow — the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association’s Regional Law Conference — on the apt subject of “Lawyers in the firing line”. 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 “inhibited person” and that approval from the Australian High Commission would be needed before she was allowed to proceed. She tweeted

Security guard: “you must have done something controversial” because we have to phone the embassy. “Certain government agencies” list.

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

The government doesn’t 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 administration’s 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:

“We are not aware of any Australian Government restriction applying to Ms Robinson’s 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.”

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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70 comments

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

  1. el tel

    Perhaps they don’t like Julian’s new TV show.

  2. Frank Campbell

    So the UK govt. is yet again doing the bidding of the paranoid USA….

    The Orwellian language is a giveaway…Note that the Blair govt lied when it denied complicity with the CIA in ‘renditions” for torture…

  3. gapot

    Nicola ROXON must have some friends at Heathrow. Robinson is also an advocate for the people of WEST PAPUA who are trying to remove the Indonesian invaders.

  4. Greg Jones

    (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. )

    There it is, right there!

  5. Andybob

    She doesn’t sound inhibited to me. Good on her.

  6. bluepoppy

    When did it become normal where those who advocate for human rights and transparency are listed as potential ‘enemies’ or worthy of ‘watching’. What if it is the State that commits the unlawfual acts? At least Wikileaks and people like Ms Robinson are also keeping the B**s honest. (As much as is humanely possible). What is it with dem Yankees.

  7. Suzanne Blake

    Roxon wanted the limelight herself, it seems

  8. Liz45

    What’s the point of having a passport? What’s the point of being a member of a ‘developed country’ that boasts of being democratic, freedom loving, blah blah!

    I suppose she should be grateful for not ending up in a cell next to Bradley Manning?

    Scary!

    (And the best SB can do is once again engage in childish political point scoring! I’m sure she’s Christopher Pyne! the little poodle who just keeps on yapping around peoples’ heels?)

  9. kennethrobinson2

    This smells like our Yank masters, have our government totally under control, smacks of treason to me, when is our GUTLESS so called leaders, going to say ENOUGH!.
    We definately have been sold out on this one, as I said before, Assange would be advised to hotfoot it down to the Russian Embassy and seek political assylum, otherwise, he will juse dissapear, and Gillard wont lift a finger to help, maybe even invited to the White House for praise.

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