A French publisher has been arrested in London on suspicion of terror offences over his alleged involvement in anti-pension reform protests in his home country, his employer has said.
Ernest Moret, who works at Editions La Fabrique, was reportedly detained by police after arriving from Paris at St Pancras railway station on Monday evening.
Mr Moret, who had taken the Eurostar and is the publisher’s foreign rights manager, was on his way to the London Book Fair, which takes place in Olympia over three days from April 18-20, when officers tried to “determine whether he was engaged in terrorist acts or in possession of material for use in terrorism”, the firm said.
Officers said he had participated in demonstrations in France over President Emmanuel Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, a joint statement with Verso Books said.
“The police officers claimed that Ernest had participated in demonstrations in France as a justification for this act – a quite remarkably inappropriate statement for a British police officer to make and which seems to clearly indicate complicity between French and British authorities on this matter.
“It was demanded that he give up his phone and pass codes to the officers, with no justification or explanation offered. This morning, Ernest was formally arrested and transferred to a police station, accused of obstruction because of his refusal to give up his pass codes. He remains in police custody.
“We consider these actions to be outrageous and unjustifiable infringements of basic principles of the freedom of expression and an example of the abuse of anti-terrorism laws.
“We consider that this assault on the freedom of expression of a publisher is yet another manifestation of the slide towards repressive and authoritarian measures taken by the current French government in the face of widespread popular discontent and protest.
On Tuesday afternoon, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “At around 1930hrs on Monday April 17, a 28-year-old man was stopped by ports officers as he arrived at St Pancras station, using powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
“On Tuesday April 18, the man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of wilfully obstructing a Schedule 7 examination (contrary to section 18 of the Terrorism Act 2000).”
French diplomatic sources said Mr Moret was released on Tuesday evening although the PA news agency has not been able to confirm that with the Metropolitan Police.
A diplomatic source told PA that on Tuesday morning the French Embassy was informed by Mr Moret’s employers of his arrest in London the previous evening, in relation to checks carried out by the British authorities on the UK’s borders.
“The Embassy took all the necessary steps with the relevant UK authorities to ensure that the interested party could, if he so wished, fully and immediately benefit from consular protection.
“Our compatriot was released by the UK authorities this evening,” they said.