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Cage director Muhammad Rabbani charged over 'Schedule 7' airport arrest

Muhammad Rabbani, director of Cage, charged with 'wilful obstruction and seeking to frustrate search' when stopped at Heathrow last year
Muhammad Rabbani was arrested on his return to the UK last November (MEE/Osha Al-Mossallami)

The director of a British human rights group has been charged following his arrest at London's Heathrow Airport last November.

Muhammad Rabbani, the international director of Cage, an advocacy group which describes itself as "working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror", is accused of failing to comply with police after being stopped for a "Schedule 7" examination on his return to the UK.

Rabbani was charged at Bethnal Green police station in east London on Wednesday morning with "wilful obstruction and seeking to frustrate" a search under Schedule 7 of the 2000 Terrorism Act.

A person found guilty of the offence faces a prison sentence of up to three months, a fine, or both.

Rabbani was released on bail and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 20 June 2017.

Rabbani has said that he declined to disclose passwords for a phone and a laptop to protect the confidentiality of a client.

He said in a statement: "I am innocent of these charges that have serious implications for journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders.”

Supporters of Rabbani had gathered outside the police station and met him after he was formally charged. 

Schedule 7 powers allow police and immigration officials to detain and question any person passing through border controls at ports and airports for the purposes of determining whether they are involved in terrorism.

Police can also access and download travellers' electronic devices and ask for passwords, and collect biometric data such as DNA samples and fingerprints.

No suspicion of involvement in criminal activity or warrant is required and failing to answer questions or cooperate is a criminal offence.

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