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Police Overreact To Terror Threat, Say Greens

Green Police spokesperson Keith Locke has written to Police Minister George Hawkins asking him to direct the police not to use the September 11 events as an excuse to violate the Bill of Rights.

Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White issued a statement today, justifying the interrogation of Petone man Tahir Ali over a letter he had written to a daily newspaper calling for the SAS to be disbanded.

"Mr White claims the interview was in connection with a potential threat to the Golf Open this week," said Mr Locke, "but it is outrageous that expressing a view critical of the use of the SAS could make anyone a terrorist suspect.

"This is in total contravention of the Bill of Rights, which guarantees free speech.

"What's next? Interviewing me because, as Green Party Defence spokesperson, I've been against the SAS going to Afghanistan?

"Maybe the police thought Mr Ali's name indicated an Islamic background, and that this also justified him being targeted. If that's so the police would be in violation of the Human Rights Act.

"The Assistant Commissioner refers to the events of 11 September' in his justification of Mr Ali's interrogation.

"I want Police Minister Hawkins to instruct the police that September 11 does not justify the Police breaching the Bill or Rights or the Human Rights Act."

Mr Locke also pointed to the allocation of 400 police to the New Zealand Open this week as another sign the Police are getting carried away in the so-called "war against terrorism."

"The number is far in excess of what was needed to deal with single anonymous threatening letter. Letters like that, usually from nutters, are generally kept secret to prevent copycat activity.

"It's sad to see the police get caught up in the anti-terrorist hysteria and engage in policing quite disproportionate to the real threat, and in a way which has unnecessarily inconvenienced the players and the public," said Mr Locke.


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