The International Director of advocacy group CAGE, Muhammad Rabbani, will appeal a Magistrate Court’s decision that found him guilty of wilfully obstructing police by refusing to hand over his phone pin number and laptop password after being stopped at Heathrow Airport last year.
Mr Rabbani was ordered to pay court costs of £620 and was granted a conditional discharge of 12 months.
The judgement followed an incident where Mr Rabbani was stopped and searched last November at London Heathrow. He cited client confidentiality as a reason to refuse the police access to his devices.
The Schedule 7 terrorism law gives police at borders unfettered access to individuals’ digital worlds, even when there is no suspicion of a crime. CAGE says this is a violation of the rule of law. Statistics show that these digital strip searches overwhelmingly target Muslims.
Muhammad Rabbani said: “I will be appealing this decision. In reality, Schedule 7 discriminates and the result indicates that our only option is to change the law. This judgement confirms that a person can fall foul of terrorism laws for protecting client confidentiality. The principle of presumption of innocence, the principle of client confidentiality and the principle of personal privacy are all too important to surrender even with the threat of conviction.
“Maintaining the trust of the torture survivor is key to holding the perpetrators of his torture to account. CAGE will continue to seek accountability and due process, with the confidence that our community and our supporters are behind us.”
Following the judge’s verdict yesterday Rabbani addressed supporters and members of the press outside Westminster Magistrates Court.
He said “I took the decision to not raise the details of an important torture case before my arrest, and ultimately I have been convicted of protecting the confidentiality of my client. If privacy and confidentiality are crimes, then the law stands condemned.
“CAGE and I are glad we brought this case, and the result indicates that our only option is to change the law. Schedule 7 actively discriminates, and this will hopefully be the start of a number of legal challenges as more people take courage to come forward. We will be appealing this decision and we have won the moral argument.”