UK: “Stansted 15” anti-deportation protesters found guilty of terrorism charges
17 December 2018
Fifteen UK anti-deportation activists, accused of terrorism offences for preventing the departure of an immigration removal charter flight from London Stansted Airport, have been found guilty.
Following a nine-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, the jury found the “Stansted 15” in contravention of the rarely used 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, by endangering safety at an airport. The defendants, who are preparing to appeal the verdict, face potential life prison sentences and await sentencing in February.
This is a blatant act of class justice aimed at severely curtailing the democratic right to protest. Over 1,300 people protested outside the Home Office in London following the perverse judgement.
On the night of March 28, 2017, the activists, belonging to the campaign group “End Deportations,” breached the perimeter fence at Stansted airport, locked themselves around a government-chartered Boeing 767, and prevented take-off. On board were 57 undocumented migrants from detention centres awaiting forced removal to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. To return the migrants, some of whom faced torture or death, would have been a flagrant denial of their human rights.
Before the police arrived, the campaigners were able to proclaim on banners their message that “mass deportations kill” and “no one is illegal.”
The airport runway was closed for an hour and 20 minutes, during which time 19 flights were diverted. It took a removal team 10 hours to extricate the protesters one by one from the body of the plane.
Though shocked at the verdict, the Stansted 15 remain defiant. Speaking to the Guardian, defendant Benjamin Smoke said, “We…