Cage international director will appeal conviction

Magistrates this week convicted Muhammad Rabbani of wilfully obstructing officers at Heathrow Airport conducting a search under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000

Muhammad Rabbani
Muhammad Rabbani

The international director of the advocacy group Cage has said he will appeal a conviction for refusing to give police passwords to his electronic devices during an airport search.

On Monday, Muhammad Rabbani was convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London of one count of wilfully obstructing a stop-and-search under section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was ordered to pay costs of £620 and granted a conditional discharge of 12 months.

Rabbani was stopped at Heathrow Airport in November but refused to give police the passwords for his devices, citing client confidentiality.

Schedule 7 allows police to stop and search people at ports, airports and international stations without the need for suspecting the person might be involved in terrorism or other criminal activity.

Rabbani said in a statement yesterday that schedule 7 was discriminatory and must be changed.

"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," he said.

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 Charity 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 reputations. But the commission later agreed in court that it had no power to dictate charities’ future spending.

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