Australian activist arrested in London following alleged ‘bomb threat’ to Chinese embassy

·3-min read
Drew Pavlou (pictured) is a longstanding critic of the Chinese government (PA) (PA Wire)
Drew Pavlou (pictured) is a longstanding critic of the Chinese government (PA) (PA Wire)

Australian activist Drew Pavlou has been arrested in the UK after the Chinese embassy in London received a false “bomb threat”.

The alleged email claimed he would blow up the embassy over human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese government.

Pavlou claims the threat originated from a fake email address designed to frame him as he pleaded his innocence.

The 23-year-old activist said he had been staging a “small, peaceful” protest outside the Chinese embassy in the capital on Thursday.

In retaliation, he alleges that the embassy reported him to police as a suspected “terrorist”.

The fake email allegedly said: “this is Drew Pavlou, you have until 12pm to stop the Uyghur genocide or I blow up the embassy with a bomb. Regards, Drew”.

But Pavlou says the account is fake and that he did not send the threat.

In a video posted on Twitter, he said: “The UK police arrested me. They said the Chinese embassy had reported me as a terrorist, as a bomb threat. I was so shocked, I’ve always been a peaceful protester.

“They’ve made up this email claiming that I sent in the bomb threat. It’s just absolute insanity. Why would I throw away my life like that? I’m a peaceful protester. It’s just so, so shocking.”

He added: “I miss my family, I can’t leave the country, they’ve threatened to arrest me at the border. I’ve done nothing wrong. I just wanted to peacefully protest and the Chinese embassy have invented this narrative that I’m a terrorist. It’s insanity.”

Pavlou said online he had been arrested by the Metropolitan police, and detained 23 hours without access to a lawyer.

“UK police handcuffed me in stress position and held me incommunicado for 23 hours with no access to lawyers. Facing seven years in prison,” he wrote on Twitter.

“They wouldn’t let me talk to anyone on the outside, no one knew where I was.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police: “The Met complies with strict codes of practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in relation to the detention of people in custody.

“Anyone who wishes to complain about their treatment by the Metropolitan Police can contact the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards or the UK Independent Office for Police Conduct.”

Australia’s foreign affairs department confirmed Pavlou’s arrest.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has offered consular assistance to Drew Pavlou, an Australian who was arrested, and subsequently released, in the United Kingdom,” the department said in a statement.

“Officials from Australia’s High Commission in London will raise Mr Pavlou’s claim that he was denied consular access before being released with UK authorities.”

Pavlou is a longstanding critic of China and has repeatedly spoken out against Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

Last month he was removed from the Wimbledon final after holding up a sign saying “where is Peng Shuai?”.

Ms Shuai is a retired female tennis player who vanished after alleging she had been sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese Communist party official.

She later reappeared in public and retracted her statement.

The Chineseembassy has been approached for comment.

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