Like the many times I have travelled through a UK airport over the last two years (see the first and second times), yesterday too I had a Special Branch officer picking me from the passengers crowd at Birmingham Airport to ask me some 'very important' questions; important to the 'security' of this country and all the 'free' countries in the world. Sometimes I pass through quietly; at others with a few routine questions. But occasionally, especially when it's a new airport or a new officer in charge, I get stopped and questioned for up to an hour.. only to practice in how many different ways I can say "No comment"!
After filling in a 'terrorism landing card' and asking, once again, about more personal and family details, come the 'clever' questions (see the two incidents mentioned above). These are usually accompanied by some implicit threats and/or seductions: "so you live on benefits"; "why do you do this stuff for free"; "aren't you thinking of getting a nice job"; bla bla bla.
This time, though, there was specific mention of the G8 and Indymedia. After some 'clever' comments about mainstream media, demonstrations and the like, they asked me about my "favourite demo", to which I said nothing. Then, "I bet the G8 [last year in Germany] was something to see." "Yeah, the cops were unbelievable", or something like that, was my reply.
Sometimes, this kind of 'jokes' could get more serious. A German activist, who was also involved with the G8 Independent Media Centre, is now accused of "supporting a terrorist group and could face up to 10 years in prison (see here for details).
I don't know where from they got this idea that I need new 'friends' or have 'friendly' chats with cops after exhausting journeys. It gets boring and frustrating after a while, yes, but it's also a good reminder that 'they' are keeping an eye on 'us' (see this Indymedia feature for some background and arguments).
7 January, 2008.