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EXCESS BAGGAGE

28-04-2007

Dr David Nicholl is keen to tell us where he’s going this weekend, and while we wouldn’t normally tolerate that kind of self-indulgence on The Stirrer, on this occasion we’re prepared to make an exception. And with good reason.

Jon Snow and Dr David Nicholl

Normally, a business trip by a doctor to Boston, Massachussetts, should generate as much interest to the average Stirrer reader as, well, paint drying. This weekend I am going to a neurology conference to present my work on subjects as diverse as inherited neuropathy, bovine tuberculosis and medical ethics - doesn’t exactly get your pulse racing does it?

However, I have more reason than most to be anxious about my journey through passport control. I have been very vocal in my opposition to the human rights abuses being committed in the War on Terror by the US administration with the complicity of our own government.

I have offered to “jump on a plane and demonstrate to any willing member of the Bush administration what force-feeding involves and then they can decide whether it is torture or not” (Channel 4 news, January 2006). And I have accused the Foreign Office of “collusion” over Guantanamo.

None of this is against the law, I haven’t even been questioned by the Police - unlike Tony Blair. Am I just being a little paranoid? Perhaps, but try saying that to Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who was passing through JFK airport on a business trip in 2002.

He was called aside, and ended up on an “extraordinary rendition” flight to Syria where he was tortured by being whipped with electrical cables and put in a windowless underground cell. He ended up being released without charge in October 2003.

So if I don’t turn up for a talk in Cheltenham at the One World festival on May 5th with, ironically, Moazzam Begg, will you please do two things:

  1. Let a journalist know that it may be more than just a delayed flight.
  2. Give Clive Stafford-Smith at Reprieve a call, I may need his help.
Consider this Stirrer posting my travel insurance.

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