Free Stephen Murney – urgent, picket this Saturday, Jan 12, Newry

Justice for Stephen Murney, White Line Picket, Monaghan Street, Newry, 12.30pm, Saturday, January 12th.

End Political Policing Now! All Welcome. Bígí Linn.

On Saturday, December 1st, 2012, Stephen Murney, a political activist from Newry, appeared in court on a number of spurious charges including the ‘possession of items likely to be of use to terrorists’ and the ‘collecting and distributing of information likely to be of use to terrorists’. The ‘evidence’ produced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in support of these charges would be laughable if the situation were not so serious.

In support of the charge of ‘possession of items likely to be of use to terrorists’ the PSNI cited two ‘air guns’ as well as jumpers, berets and trousers that were found in Stephen’s house. The fact that the ‘air guns’ were harmless, legal toys made no difference to Britain’s political police. And nor did the fact that the items of clothing were clearly part of the uniform of Stephen’s old flute band. In support of the charge of ‘collecting and distributing information likely to be of use to terrorists’ the PSNI cited images of the police recovered from Stephen’s computer. So what were these images and where did they come from?

Like any political activist, or indeed student of history, Stephen has used internet search engines to find out more about key events of the last forty years. As a result his computer contains photos relating to the civil rights movement, Bloody Sunday, the 1981 Hunger Strike and other events right up to the present day – photos which by their very nature contain images of both the RUC and PSNI. In addition to these internet-sourced photos, Stephen also had a number of photos of PSNI members taken in more recent times in the Newry area. All of these photos were taken in full view of the PSNI when they were in uniform and on duty at commemorations, protests and other political events. Because Stephen chose to post these images on Facebook and other social media platforms he now stands accused of ‘distributing’ information likely to be of use to ‘terrorists’.

All across the world political activists are routinely advised by legal and civil rights experts to document the behaviour of the police at these type of political events. When they do so in Syria and Libya they are deemed to be heroes; when they do so in Ireland they are hauled before the courts.

On Friday, December 21st, Stephen applied for bail in the Belfast High Court. While he was granted bail, the terms that were attached to it were too onerous for Stephen to accept. These terms included a ban on Stephen entering not only his own home, but the entire city of Newry; the constant wearing of an electronic tag; a night time curfew and daily signing-on at Newtonhamilton PSNI barracks.

For taking this principled stand against state oppression Stephen spent his Christmas in Maghaberry Jail and is now facing up to two years imprisonment before trial. Were Stephen to be convicted of the charges against him he may face many more years of incarceration. Whether you agree with Stephen’s politics (he is a member of éirígí) or not, is irrelevant. It is abundantly clear that Stephen Murney is the victim of political policing in the Six Counties. He is in Maghaberry Jail because he has been a consistent and vocal opponent of the PSNI and the Stormont administration. If the British state can imprison one person on the basis of the ‘evidence’ produced against Stephen, they can imprison us all.

Support the call for Stephen’s release and join the protest on Monaghan Street in Newry at 12.30pm on Saturday, January 12th. All welcome. Bígí linn. Please forward this to others who may be interested.

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Posted on January 8, 2013, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, éirígí, British state repression (general), Censorship, Democratic rights - general, Irish politics today, Prisoners - current, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in the six counties today, six counties. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Free Stephen Murney – urgent, picket this Saturday, Jan 12, Newry.

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