By Abul Taher -23:33 GMT, 1 September 2012 |
A lawyer acting for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says she was stopped at Heathrow and told that she was on a secret watch-list and required special clearance before she could board her plane.
Australian Jennifer Robinson said she was left stunned after being told by an airline crew that she was on an ‘inhibited person list’ that means she must have ‘done something controversial’.
Ms Robinson said that she could not understand why she was on the list as she had never done anything controversial or criminal.
She had only represented clients around the world, one of whom was Mr Assange.
She added that under Australian law, a citizen does not need special clearance when returning to their own country, regardless of whether they are on any watch-lists.
Although WikiLeaks supporters believe that the ‘inhibited person list’ may be a secret US or British watch-list that monitors the international movements of certain individuals, both governments have denied they operate such a database.
The Australian government has also denied having such a list. Ms Robinson, 31, said: ‘This incident raises so many questions.
‘Why would I need clearance to travel to my own country? So far I have not had a proper explanation.’
The human rights lawyer is a member of Mr Assange’s legal team, which has been fighting his extradition to Sweden on alleged sexual assault offences.
She was also his legal adviser when WikiLeaks published US military documents as well as diplomatic cables from American embassies.
She was trying to board a Virgin Atlantic plane from Heathrow to Sydney, where she was going to attend a Commonwealth lawyers’ conference. Eventually, she was issued with a boarding pass and allowed to catch her flight.
The incident happened in April but this is the first time Ms Robinson has talked about it to a British newspaper.
Virgin Atlantic said it could not comment on the case ‘due to data protection’.