London party

Australian activist accuses China of being detained in London

Human rights activist Drew Pavlou has been arrested in London over an alleged bomb threat email sent to the Chinese Embassy. Video / @DrewPavlouforSenate

An Australian activist who was arrested in London over an alleged bomb threat email sent to the Chinese Embassy has slammed the Chinese Communist Party for ‘destroying his life’.

Serial protester Drew Pavlou has strongly denied responsibility for the alleged bomb threat and pleaded for Australia’s help, asking politicians to “speak up”. Pavlou says he was targeted because he is a public and “vocal” critic of the CCP.

“The Chinese government is trying to make an example out of me and they are trying to destroy my life,” he told news.com.au.

“This is by far the worst thing I have ever experienced from the Chinese government, because they literally tried to trap me with something that can lead to seven years in prison.”

Prior to his arrest, he was organizing a protest against the CCP’s treatment of the Uyghur people in China.

Taking place on Thursday, July 21, Pavlou says the protest itself was peaceful and non-violent. He intended to stick the Tibetan, Taiwanese and Kokbayraq (a symbol commonly used by Uyghur activists) on a plastic Covid shield outside the embassy.

However, at around 4 p.m. that day, he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London on charges relating to criminal damage and objects transported with intent to cause criminal damage to the embassy, ​​and false information to communicate a bomb threat.

Sent from email: [email protected], Pavlou says he has no connection to the address.

“It sounded like a 10-year-old wrote it. Even if you were trying to trick someone, it wasn’t even believable,” he says.

To date, Met Police has not released a copy of the letter to Pavlou’s legal team. Although Pavlou only saw him once while being questioned by police, he believes he was saying, “Hi, this is Drew Pavlou, I’m fighting for Uyghurs. You have until at noon to reply to this email and stop the genocide of the Uyghurs, or I’m going to blow up the embassy with a comb. Sincerely, Drew.

Drew Pavlou caused a stir in the Wimbledon final for brandishing a
Drew Pavlou caused a stir in the Wimbledon final for holding up a “Where’s Peng Shuai?” sign. Photo/news.com.au, @drewpavlou

There followed 22 “horrible” hours of police custody during which Pavlou claims to have been placed in a cell of 2.5 m by 3 m.

“There was a wooden bench that was just wide enough to lie on and sleep on with a foam slab as a pillow,” he says.

“I think in the 22 hours I had one meal. They tried to give me another one but I felt so sick.

“They never turned the lights off and I just had the blinding lights on all the time.”

During this time, he was also barred from speaking to a lawyer until 2 p.m. the next day.

“My argument is that they were effectively denying me proper representation. They were telling me your lawyers weren’t responding, but they were on the phone trying to reach me and (the police) were just ignoring them,” he says.

While he initially decided to leave London in the days following the protest, Pavlou remains in the UK and does not know when he will be able to return. He says police have not yet clarified whether he is allowed to leave the country before his bail hearing on August 14.

“When I was released they gave me my passport back and I asked if I was banned from leaving (the UK)?

They said, ‘There is no formal prohibition but we strongly advise against it as you could be stopped at an airport and arrested because your passport could be withheld.'”

Since his arrest, Pavlou has also started a GoFundMe to help cover his living expenses while stranded in the UK, as well as his legal fees and hopefully a flight back to Australia. .

Although he has currently raised over $24,000, administrative issues have prevented him from transferring the funds to cover his exorbitant legal fees. Since his arrest, he has retained pro bono legal counsel from prominent human rights lawyer Michael Polak, but he still faces exorbitant fees for his attorneys.

For example, it cost Pavlou £3,000, or around NZ$5,800, for his lawyers to send the Met Police a letter demanding the return of his phone.

“Everyone seems to think I’m going to be released, but I don’t know if the Met Police will let it hang around for six months as pain and punishment,” he said.

Pavlou’s objections to the CCP have been well documented. In the weeks before his protest at the embassy, ​​he was expelled from the Wimbledon final for protesting the fate and well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.

In May 2022, the activist sparked an angry response from residents of Sydney’s Eastwood suburb after he was seen holding a sign that read: “F**k Xi Jinping”.

Drew Pavlou caused a stir in the Wimbledon final for brandishing a
Drew Pavlou caused a stir in the Wimbledon final for holding up a “Where’s Peng Shuai?” sign. Photo/news.com.au, @drewpavlou

When asked what he wants people to know about his current situation, he appealed for people to remember him.

“I need people from the Australian Government to speak out on my case. I really need Penny Wong, Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton to speak out,” he said.

“I need them to raise this with the UK authorities: why are the Met Police treating me like this? Why are they doing this to someone who is a peaceful protester?

“I’m a respected human rights activist and they treat me like I’m a terrorist.”