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19 Apr, 2012 11:17

Assange lawyer grounded by authorities?

Assange lawyer grounded by authorities?

Human rights activist and WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson was stopped at a London airport on the basis that she is on an “inhibited fly list.” Her Australian colleagues reacted with uproar, demanding an explanation.

Upon arriving at Heathrow airport to catch a flight back to Australia, Jennifer Robinson tweeted "just delayed from checking in because I'm apparently "inhibited" – requiring approval from Australia House @dfat to travel.” She was referring to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

She had to gain clearance from the Australian High Commissioner before boarding the plane.

Security personnel at the Heathrow Terminal told her that she must have done something “controversial” because they were required to call the Australian high commission in the UK.

The Australian foreign office responded to the claims, saying that they were unaware of any restrictions preventing Jennifer Robinson from traveling.

"As an Australian with a valid passport, she would be free to return to Australia at any stage," a spokesman told the Australian Associated Press.

He added that UK border authorities may be able to elaborate on why she was barred from checking in. British immigration authorities denied that any Australian agency maintained “an inhibited list” at the airport.

The news provoked the ire of Ms Robinson’s compatriots in the legal community. President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance Greg Barns called the existence of such a list “extraordinary” and stressed that the Australian government be held accountable for its actions.

"Right through this issue it has obfuscated, refused to provide assistance to Mr. Assange, and now the Australian government, working with the UK, has put his lawyer on an inhibited persons list," he said.

Ms. Robinson works as a director of legal advocacy at the Bertha Foundation in London and acted as an advisor for whistleblower Julian Assange, also an Australian national, regarding extradition proceedings in Britain.

She also appeared recently as the trial of Bradley Manning in the US on behalf of WikiLeaks. Private Manning was accused of leaking classified information from the US military while he worked as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad to the whistle-blowing website.

There has been speculation as to whether Ms. Robinson’s role in the legal proceedings may have also had some bearing on the immigration incident.

The event comes two days after the airing of Julian Assange’s new talk show on RT, which featured the first interview with Hezbollah leader Sayyid Nasrallah since 2006. The pilot of The World Tomorrow triggered a media frenzy and aggressive criticism, labeling the whistleblower a puppet of the Kremlin.