International director of Cage charged under Terrorism Act

The advocacy group's Muhammad Rabbani, 36, refused to disclose passwords for his electronic devices when detained at Heathrow last year; he will appear in court on 20 June

Muhammad Rabbani
Muhammad Rabbani

The international director of the advocacy group Cage has been charged under the Terrorism Act after refusing to hand over the passwords of his electronic devices to police at Heathrow Airport.

Muhammad Rabbani, 36, was detained at Heathrow on 20 November last year, searched and told to hand over the passwords so the police could examine the content of his electronic devices.

Rabbani said he was innocent and would contest the charge.

Cage campaigns on behalf of communities affected by the so-called war on terror. In a statement on the group’s website, Rabbani said his devices had contained crucial evidence from a torture survivor, so he had refused to allow them to be searched because he did not have the person’s permission to share the information.

He was charged yesterday at Bethnal Green police station in east London with wilfully obstructing or seeking to frustrate a search examination under the Terrorism Act.

Although Cage is not a charity, it has previously been funded by charities including the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation.

In 2014, it emerged that Cage had once been in contact with Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State militant and British citizen nicknamed Jihadi John. Cage director Asim Qureshi described him at the time as having been a "beautiful young man", blaming MI5 for his radicalisation.

The commission contacted both charities to seek assurances that they were no longer funding Cage, and asked them to agree not to fund it in the future, saying any connection between Cage and the charities could damage their reputation. But the commission later agreed in court that it had no power to dictate charities’ future spending.

In a statement on Cage’s website, Rabbani said: "I am innocent of these charges that have serious implications for journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders"

A statement on the Metropolitan Police Force’s website confirmed the charges against Rabbani.

He is due to appear Westminster Magistrates' Court on 20 June.

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