Three men from Burnley, Lancashire, were released without charge yesterday after being arrested under anti-terrorism legislation on their way to join a humanitarian mission to Gaza.
Nine men, all of them Muslims, were arrested by police on Friday of last week as they travelled to join the Viva Palestina convoy organised by George Galloway MP. Six were released shortly afterwards.
“The timing of the operation is seen locally as an attempt to smear and intimidate the Muslim community and I must say they seem to be right,” said Galloway.
“The arrests were clearly deliberately timed for the eve of the departure of the convoy. Photographs of the high-profile snatch on the M65 were immediately fed to the press to maximise the newsworthiness of the smear that was being perpetrated on the convoy.”
Michael Lavalette, a socialist councillor in Preston, added, “The suspicion is that this was a politically motivated operation to disrupt the convoy.
“The Gaza convoy is a humanitarian mission and the men travelling from Lancashire had vehicles laden with gifts from children in our area for the children of Gaza. The disruption of this trip is nothing short of a disgrace.”