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Parkin charged $11,700 for detention and removal

Parkin charged $11,700 for detention and removal


Los Angeles Friday, 16 September, 2005 : American peace activist Scott Parkin arrived back in the US today, escorted by 2 Australian immigration officials. He is expected to arrive in Houson, Texas on a Continental Airlines flight at around 3pm AEST.

After being detained for 5 days, alone in a Melbourne detention centre for being a suspected "national security risk", Scott was handed a bill for almost $A11,700.

It included $A4,235.03 for his airfare back to LA and $6,675.39 for the return airfares of his two corrective services escorts as well as their accommodation in Los Angeles. The five-day stay at the Melbourne Custody Centre will cost him another $777

The 36-year-old Texan history teacher says he was made to feel like a terrorist and a criminal and remains baffled as to why six police officers "snatched him off the street" as he left a Melbourne cafe last Saturday.

"I'm just completely baffled by all of this," said Parkin, surrounded by Australian TV cameras and media, said soon after his arrival at Los Angeles international airport.

Parkin was in Australia as part of a six-month holiday in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He arrived on June 1.

The activist was also banned from entering Australia for three years and the Australian visa in his passport was stamped with: "NOT FOR FURTHER TRAVEL".

He plans to fight his removal from Australia and is desperate to find out why authorities were concerned about him.

"I'd love to know the assessment in which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) made of me to lock me up for five days in solitary confinement and then remove me from the country essentially forcibly," Parkin said.

In contrast to Scott’s treatment in Australia, he encountered no problems from US officials on arrival at LA airport - "The US Customs were extremely friendly," he said.

Parkin plans to be vocal in the US about his detainment in Australia and removal.

Asked about how he now felt about the Australian government he replied: "I'm not going to go into that too much, but I don't have very high regard though".

Parkin warned the incident raised great concerns about freedom of speech in Australia and the US.

"I think we are seeing a crisis in freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Australia, the United States and lots of places and people need to be aware," he said.

An activist for 15 years, he said he gave talks while in Australia about the war in Iraq and helped organise one protest against US energy company Halliburton.

"In the talks I gave I wasn't even openly critical of Australia," Parkin said.

"I was being openly critical of the US occupation (of Iraq) and I was being openly critical of Halliburton."
While he was not happy with the treatment he received in Australia, he said his passage through US immigration and customs at LA airport today was a breeze.

It was just after finishing breakfast at a cafe in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick last Saturday when a shocked Parkin saw six police officers.

"I had just finished breakfast when I had just walked out," Parkin said.

"I talked to them for a minute and said 'Hey, I'm a peaceful person. I'm passive. I'm not going to give you any trouble'.

"They said 'OK', so we went to a local police station where an immigration officer interrogated me."

Parkin said authorities never made it clear why he had been arrested.

"They were very vague," he said.

"They said I violated sections of the migration act and they said I was a direct or indirect risk to their national security."

Parkin was housed alone in a jail cell that contained two concrete slabs to sleep on, a TV set and a sink.

"They gave me three couch cushions and three really crummy blankets and fed me three times a day," he said.

Parkin will be met by friends and colleagues when he arrives at Houston airport in Texas later today.

“Scott is committed to nonviolence. In Australia, he was advocating for peace and protesting corporate greed. Why is peaceful protest and corporate accountability a threat to national security? It appears they're using national security as an excuse to silence dissent,” said Maureen Haver, Scott’s roommate in Houston and member of the group Houston Global Awareness.

Parkin’s supporters in the US have been calling and protesting outside the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC with the following demands of the Australian Government:

1) Fully disclose why they have labeled Scott Parkin a threat to Australia's national security.
2) Drop all allegations against Scott and apologize for his detainment.
3) Commit to refrain from similar human rights violations in the future.

Sources: AAP, Global Awareness

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