The director of the human rights group CAGE, which campaigns against Islamophobia and anti-terror laws, has been arrested under anti-terror laws, police have confirmed.
Muhammad Rabbani, 36, was stopped at Heathrow Airport in November last year under stop and search powers and arrested after he refused to hand over his computer password.
He attended Bethnal Green police station in east London with his lawyer on Wednesday to answer bail and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 20 June.
CAGE argues that anti-terror laws and de-radicalisation programmes unfairly target and stigmatise Muslims – who they see as the victims of the war on terror – and have encouraged the public to “resist” such laws.
On Twitter, the group revealed Mr. Rabbani had been “charged for failing to disclose his password under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act”, adding: “The exact charge is ‘wilfully obstruct/ seeking to frustrate search/ examination by Schedule 7’.”
The exact charge is "wilfully obstruct/ seeking to frustrate search/ examination by Schedule 7" pic.twitter.com/mKPcKqIUQq
— CAGE (@UK_CAGE) May 17, 2017
Schedule 7 powers allow police and immigration officials to detain and question suspicious a person passing through border controls to determine if they are linked to terrorism. Police can download a suspect’s information and collect biometric data such as DNA samples and fingerprints.
A post on CAGE’s website revealed that Mr. Rabbani had been detained under Schedule 7 powers over 20 times in the past decade. They said: “He has never previously provided his password when requested to do so. However this was the first time he was arrested for not complying.
“He believes it is because the material on his laptop included documentation relating to a legal case being built around alleged torture involving US intelligence agencies.
“Rabbani pleaded that he could not disclose that material without the express consent of the alleged victim of torture. Like those before him, Rabbani is willing to go to prison for his principles.
“If Rabbani is charged today and jailed, we should not only support him but celebrate his arrest as it may prove to be a watershed movement for civil rights in Britain.”
Left wing groups have previously accused CAGE of being a “shady Salafi PR outfit”, and they have been widely condemned for allegedly defending terrorists and calling Islamic State executioner Jihadi John an “extremely kind, gentle, beautiful young man”.
Despite their controversial history, a number of MPs, Labour’s shadow chancellor, and London’s deputy “integration” mayor have worked with the group, as well as the National Union of Students (NUS).