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Terror Arrests on Campus

ConcernedStudent | 16.05.2008 00:46 | Other Press | Terror War

Two people have been arrested on the University of Nottingham campus under the Anti-terror laws.

According to

" Two men have been arrested at the University of Nottingham campus under the Terrorism Act, police have said.

Police said the men, aged 30 and 22, were arrested on Wednesday morning. One is reported to be a student and the other a former student.

They are being questioned while premises connected to them, including campus property, are searched.

Police said it was a joint operation between Nottinghamshire Police and the Midlands counter-terrorist unit.

Supt Simon Nickless from Nottinghamshire Police said officers had been working alongside community representatives to "offer support and reassurance".

He said the operation has been "low-key" and the community's response to it had been "calm and rational".

Full co-operation

"Feedback is that people accept that this is the sort of operation that is necessary and reasonable for the welfare of communities," he said.

A uniformed presence is in place at the main Trent building, which houses the schools of English, modern languages and philosophy as well as management offices.

Jonathan Ray, a spokesman for the university, said the institution "has been co-operating fully from the outset throughout this inquiry".

"Nottinghamshire Police have stressed that there is no risk to the university community or to the wider public," he said.

"Here, at the institution, we fully accept that this sort of police operation is necessary and reasonable for the welfare of our communities." "


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University of Nottingham = mini-Fascist state?

16.05.2008 12:04

Very worrying as under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 habeus corpus is suspended and the house arrest powers of the act are, frankly, fascist-like.

If anyone has anymore news about who was arrested and if they've been charged (as they can be held and NOT EVEN charged for nearly one month), please post it here as a comment/addition to the article.


more info

16.05.2008 15:07

concerned activist

evening post article

16.05.2008 18:45

evening post reader


16.05.2008 22:00

Obviously this is absolutely intolerable - an attack on academic freedom, a violation of human rights, and a threat to the safety of students and staff on campus by the police and university bosses. It's like something out of eastern Europe in the old days - dissidents caught reading banned books by university bosses being shuttled away by the secret police.

A close reading shows this this was no response to a specific danger; it was an attack on students who had been reading "radical" works.
"Police are thought to have swooped after being contacted by senior university figures."
So this was initiated by the university, not the police.,,2280581,00.html
"The arrests are understood to relate to alleged radical material."
In other words, this isn't about anyone doing anything, it's about people having the "wrong" political views.

This operation is intolerable on at least three different grounds:

1) Academic freedom:
Universities are spaces of research, debate, learning and inquiry. This means people should be able to research different political movements and perspectives. We can't have the state going around decreeing that certain movements and ideas can't be studied because they're too dangerous. There's plenty of people around nowadays who study terrorism, opposition movements, readings of Islam, other radical movements of various kinds. If we let the university bosses and the police get away with arresting university students for reading "radical" books, then none of us are safe - sooner or later they could criminalise all kinds of alternative research agendas.

2. Human rights:
The university bosses have initiated an attack on some of their own students, putting them at serious risk of political persecution. It is very common today for people to be arrested and even tried and jailed simply for having political Islamist beliefs or reading political Islamist materials. For the university to have voluntarily called in these dangerously intolerant state racists, and praised and condoned their actions, is simply intolerable.

3. Safety and freedom of students and staff:
The university "community" is very diverse and includes students from a wide range of countries, people with previous bad experiences of the police, political opponents of the current system, people with psychological and other problems. It is absurd to expect this entire range to be comfortable with intrusive police operations. There is a risk that vulnerable people will be traumatised, ordinary university operations disrupted, university made less of a safe space so some people don't feel able to study or work there. Supporters of the crackdown might respond that such dangers of terrorising and traumatising people are outweighed by the evils prevented. But what exactly has been prevented? Someone has been targeted for having the wrong views. It isn't like they have plausible evidence of a pending attack. It isn't like they're responding to a murder or a rape. Given the lack of seriousness of what the police are responding to, there is absolutely no excuse for their intrusive and frightening presence on campus.


If people are still around on campus, attempts should be made to organise a protest against the raid, in the spirit of the free speech mobilisations.

We should try to find out which section of the university bureaucracy authorised contacting the police, and target this section whenever they have their next meeting, to make a display that their actions are not going to be tolerated.

Once we find out what's going on, depending if they're charged and what they're accused of, we should consider launching a defence campaign, or if they're released without charge, a campaign for an official apology from the police and the university.

Drawing attention is crucial. The way this kind of thing is spun, it will seem to the casual reader as a perfectly acceptable response to the "threat of terrorism". This is because very few facts are provided. And very few facts will be provided in the media EVER, unless there's very serious charges. So what's really happening - that people are being criminalised and persecuted for having unpopular beliefs, with resultant chilling of free speech and of everyone's security from the state - is ignored. We need to find some way of getting an alternative framing into public view, ideally into the media, and imposing costs (of bad publicity, visibility, hostility) on these kinds of operations. If they can do this with impunity then they'll keep doing it, if there are costs then they will think twice.

student dissident

another suggestion...

16.05.2008 22:28

It would be absolutely amazing if there were human rights protests at the Malaysia campus about Nottingham's human rights record in Britain (about time this kind of thing got reversed...)

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country and opponent of the "war on terror". Doubtless there are plenty of Malaysian Muslims who would not be well pleased at the idea that a university with a campus in the country is actively encouraging police to arrest people for studying Islamic movements. Not to mention socialists and NGOs who would be concerned on human rights grounds, and the infamous Malaysian anarcho-punk federation.

How one gets in touch with them is another matter...


more info

17.05.2008 00:07

from the university portal

University News

Updated Statement - recent media coverage
There is now a reduced level of police activity at the University Park campus.

Media attention - following the public disclosure yesterday evening of an investigation linked to the Terrorism Act - is also less obvious. Staff and students may still notice vehicles belonging to the Nottinghamshire Constabulary parked around the Trent Building, and the occasional broadcast vehicle, but we do expect police and journalistic operations to be scaled down.

Newspaper and broadcast coverage has appeared mostly in the city press and in the regional broadcast media. An announcement on the Intranet Portal was posted to coincide with early media coverage. The University community will understand that we were unable to release much information, and comment has to remain limited whilst an investigation is ongoing.

As reported yesterday, a 30 year-old and a 22 year-old are being questioned in response to a low key and measured investigation with which the University cooperated from the outset.

From the beginning we were assured that the University community and the wider public at University Park campus were not at risk. This was a planned and discreetly conducted police operation, and the impact on everyday life at University Park has been minimal. Students and staff can expect no disruption to everyday University activities. Our research and teaching areas, and designated examination halls, are unaffected.

We will of course post an announcement on the Intranet Portal, and will continue to brief Schools, Departments and the Students Union, as appropriate in the days ahead.

Paul Greatrix


another student


17.05.2008 08:10

Most of the mainstream media coverage is based on the statement by Notts Police.

- Homepage:

What 'materials'

17.05.2008 08:33

I might be missing something, but do we know anything other than they had 'racial materials'? Do we know anything about what they were.

Also isn't it strange that the hyper-secretive university and police have given out so much information at this stage?

concerned lecturer

I spy ...

17.05.2008 10:51


I would respond to the content of Bob's post, but engaging with the idea that "possession of radical materials" (the definition of which is as broad as that of terrorism, which we've seen encompasses such violent extremism as peaceful student protest) is evidence for someone being a potential bomber of a train station may lead to some sort of coherent thought, which Bob here appears to be incapable of, preferring instead to stick to witless regurgitations of the Daily Mail.

I spy cop

"Reinforcing values"?

19.05.2008 19:41

From latest University statement:

"Where individual or group action unsettles the harmony of the campus, the University is committed to working through established channels to reinforce the values and standards that underpin a diverse and tolerant environment."

The implication being that the two people who've been arrested were in some way in breach of these 'values', despite the fact that we know nothing about what the police or university think they might have been 'doing'/'saying'/'thinking'? Let alone what the reality was.

A fairly worrying use of rhetoric, given the uncertain circumstances at present. It's as if they're already trying to justify and strengthen the case for the whole fiasco (effectively an extension of the wider shift towards establishing a police state) before the outcome is even known.

Another very concerned student

the detail is important

19.05.2008 23:09

First I would like to say that in my experience of political activism in Nottingham this seems to be one of the most serious attacks on political expression I have seen. I feel very much the same way as those who are questioning both the university's and the police's motives. What I would say is that the key to getting a positive outcome from this experience is to find out exactly which of these organisations, and who in them is to blame.

The media relations of both departments puts up a smoke screen of 'policy' which hides the real motives of the people who have made the decisions to act in this way. To challenge their behaviour we need to tackle the 'policy' in the public domain, but to challenge them legally we need to identify exactly who it is that has initiated this.

It may be the police's vendetta in relation to a civil action, or it may be the university wanting to defend the 'harmony' (read: conformity) of the campus, or it may be someone misinterpreting the government guidelines on monitoring extremism. Over the last week I have heard all of these theories and I have to say they are all credible. The key is finding out which of these is actually true and basing a legal response on this.

concerned and motivated

More details and questions

20.05.2008 10:49

The only basis for the particular student’s arrest indeed appears to have been the fact that he was in possession of ‘radical literature’ he had downloaded from the internet and showed this to somebody else. Some of the content of this literature is deemed illegal under the terrorism act (i.e. a terrorist training manual). Crucially, there appears to be no evidence that the student intended to do anything illegal with this literature. It is particularly important to note that this literature is directly relevant to the student’s research subject and interests.

There are a number of important questions to be asked:

1) Who reported the fact that the student was in possession of this literature to the police and what were the intentions behind this?

2) Who decided that an armed arrest and detention under the terrorism act was a proportionate response to downloading literature available on the internet? What was the purpose of police officers searching students’ bags and patting students down on campus in the days following these arrests, given the nature of the ‘crime’ committed? Did this not create fear amongst the student community that was totally disproportionate to the apparent ‘threat’?

3) To what extent was the student’s arrest linked to political protests on campus he had been previously involved in? Did he possibly piss off individuals in university management/university security/Nottinghamshire police once too often and they are trying to teach him a lesson in the name of ‘campus harmony’?

4) The student’s arrest came in the middle of the exam period, i.e. he has now missed a number of crucial exams. If he is released without charge how will he be recompensed for the aggravation caused, the time lost, and the impact this will have on his future academic career? Who will be held responsible for this?

5) What does all of this mean in terms of freedom of speech and the ability of students and staff to conduct innovative research? How do we know what we can and cannot read without getting arrested – whether this material is deemed ‘illegal’ or ‘not illegal, but suspicious’?

Angry lecturer

quick questions to posters...

20.05.2008 14:32

1) I've been off-campus since the incident (in hiding you might say) - what are the details on police searching students on campus? Who was being searched - everyone entering a particular building, or people being singled out? Was this happening around the Trent building or more widely? Was there "racial profiling" or a dragnet? What kind of numbers were affected?

2) how comes there is so much secrecy surrounding the case - how come we don't know the identity of the people arrested for instance - is this at the behest of the police, or the people arrested? Is it a legal ban on coverage, some kind of informal threat if it leaks out, or is it being done at people's own behest to protect the "accused"?

another concerned student

more stuff

20.05.2008 15:48

This is the whole of the statement from the university that seeks to justify it’s untenable position:

“The University works closely with the Students’ Union to promote dialogue, understanding and respect between student societies and is proactive in meeting regularly with representatives of key cultural groups. We also work closely with chaplains and faith groups, not only to meet the needs of students from particular faiths, but also to balance the interests of particular cultural or religious groups with those of the wider campus community. Where individual or group action unsettles the harmony of the campus, the University is committed to working through established channels to reinforce the values and standards that underpin a diverse and tolerant environment.”

Big Brother is here and its called the University of Nottingham. The newspeak of the Uiversity is to be understood as follows:

“promote dialogue, understanding and respect” = promote silence, fear and politcal submission

"key cultural groups" = any body who voices dissent against the santized corporate environment that the capitalist “adminstrators” who now run the University are trying to maintain

“balance the interests of particular cultural or religious groups with those of the wider community” = make sure that peace activists, muslims and others who have been labelled “subversive” do not voice their opinions in such a way that annoys arms companies and other corporations

“unsettles the harmony of the campus” = expresses a view that challenges the political and economic domination of arms companies and corporations

“the University is committed to working through established channels” = the University will call the police who will arrest you and hold you incomunicado for up to 28 days, raid your home, confiscate your computer and other possessions, harrass and intimidate family memebers and friends

Yet another concerned student

Possible responses

20.05.2008 17:46

1) It is important that there be some kind of visible response. This will be difficult given the time of year, and may have to wait till autumn, but could consist for example of picketing the next official meeting at the university, creating an ongoing tent camp for free speech, another mass march, etc.

2) File official complaints over the treatment of students, the university actions and the police intrusion. These give the university the opportunity to back down or apologise, or distance itself from whoever made the decision to call the police. If they refuse to do so then it will at least expose what decisions were made and why.

3) Try to find out which person or agency was responsible for calling in the police. Whoever did this was infringing students’ rights and wasting police time. We should demand that this person resign or be sacked. If necessary we should organise an ongoing campaign for resignation.

4) Try to raise and pass a motion in UCU condemning the raid, condemning terror laws for potentially infringing academic freedom and pledging UCU members not to report people to the police for political opinions, research topics, or anything which doesn’t involve actually planning a terrorist attack. This could be taken to national UCU – after the Palestine motion, anything of this kind would get attention even if it wasn’t passed.

5) Try to raise the issue internationally: this kind of thing will be rather more shocking to audiences in the rest of the world, especially the Middle East, than here. We should try to get our actions covered in outlets such as al-Jazeera, IRNA, Daily Times (Pakistan) and so on, so they reach a more sympathetic audience. Attempts should also be made to get the case in Statewatch, various left and anarchist papers/magazines, etc.

6) Try to organise simultaneous protests at the Malaysia campus, by making links with civil rights and/or Muslim groups in Malaysia.

7) Try to get statements of support from national and international human rights groups. An endorsement from Amnesty would be great but they seem reluctant to declare people prisoners of conscience in Britain. Electronic Frontier Foundation, Islamic Human Rights Commission and CAMPACC would probably be supportive. Is there an international organisation for academic freedom?

8) I would imagine that people can come up with other ideas of things to do on the ground which would impose costs on the university for their actions. It would be good to see the campus covered in posters, stickers etc about this for awhile; and if it had a general bad effect on the university administration in other ways.

still concerned


20.05.2008 19:06

in answer to the question above about an international academic freedom organization - i have only heard of Academics for Academic Freedom

see for more info

another student who is also concerned