Filed under: International Coverage
Syndicated from Dark Nights.
While nobody should look to the so-called judicial system for justice, the extrajudicial prosecution of anarchists is a trend that has spread further across the globe in recent years.
The state is so shamelessly vindictive, so unabashedly a weapon against freedom that more and more anarchists worldwide face extreme repression without even the formality of a conviction or an official guilty verdict. Our comrade Toby Shone in the UK is, unfortunately, now another example. You can hear about his case from Toby himself here and send him messages of support via emailaprisoner.com or the postal address below. For additional updates we recommend following Dark Nights blog.
Even though the cops couldn’t prove their terrorism case against him after a four year investigation, anarchist prisoner Toby Shone is facing a Serious Crime Prevention Order that will legally sanction the criminalization and total surveillance of him and everyone around him for years to come after his release.
In November 2020, a series of co-ordinated raids against one of the alleged administrators of the website 325.nostate.net was executed by counter-terrorism cops in the UK as part of “Operation Adream.” Several properties in the southwest of England were searched and one person, Toby Shone, was arrested at gunpoint in the Forest of Dean and charged under the Terrorism Act. This was the first time the British State attempted to prosecute an anarchist under modern terrorism legislation and the first time that somebody was prosecuted for being suspected of running an anarchist website.
Toby was originally charged with providing a service enabling others to access terrorist publications, with fundraising for terrorist purposes, and with two counts of possession of information likely to be useful to a terrorist. He pleaded not guilty, the cops weren’t able to produce any evidence, and the prosecution was forced to drop these charges on October 1st 2021. In the end, Toby Shone was sentenced to 3 years 9 months in prison for 8 drug offenses on October 13, 2021. The “drugs” were psychedelics and medicinal plants found at two of the four properties raided in November 2020, all collective spaces. He served 8 months of this sentence on remand at HMP Wandsworth and is currently held in HMP Bristol. He is due for release sometime between August and December 2022.
However, Detective Chief Inspector Sion Margrie and posh-boy prosecutors Dan Porson-Pounds and Thomas Coke-Smythe continue their persecution of Toby by applying for an Order which would control and monitor his daily movements, his contact with others, residence, finances, devices, and so on. It also demands precise information be given to the cops of all his friends, contacts, loved ones, acquaintances, and any business clients. His bank account and access to phone, internet and storage devices would be monitored, and he cannot use those from anyone else. He would not be able to use encryption technology and is only allowed £50 in cash, forcing him to be cashless to be able to track his financial footprint. If he stays somewhere overnight he needs to tell the cops where, when, with who and why. If someone comes to visit he must also register who, when and why. Any work opportunities, how much he earns and who he meets must also be reported. Basically, this order would put him under a form of house arrest and force him to be an accomplice in his own surveillance and that of his friends.
Serious Crime Prevention Orders are often used as “stealth sentencing” when cops don’t get their way the first time. The Order would last at least five years after his release from prison, and can be renewed after that time. Toby could face another five years in prison if he breaches it, which of course the cops are desperately hoping will be the case. The order is designed to be breached, as the conditions and restrictions are so insane and so many, it would be impossible not to breach them at some point. If his friends refuse to collaborate they could also face criminal prosecution and a prison term of 12 months for obstruction.
The cops argue that this control order is needed because of Toby’s alternative lifestyle and beliefs. Criminalizing a lifestyle to justify a SCPO is not only outrageous but a very dangerous precedent. Another dangerous precedent is having a SCPO used against activists. It is obvious that this Order has nothing to do with the drug charges that Toby has been convicted for, and for which he is doing more than enough time now. Instead, the Order has everything to do with the terrorism charges the cops couldn’t find any proof for. It has everything to do with him being involved in the anarchist movement.
As is obvious from the new policing legislation being hurried through by the authoritarian British regime, particularly under its Home Secretary Priti Patel, this Control Order does not only concern Toby. It is not even only about state repression of anarchist counter-information initiatives. It is about setting a precedent to stifle whatever form of protest with a draconian surveillance tool and forcing people to be an accomplice in their own repression and surveillance, and that of their social surroundings.
The Order against Toby is similar in justification and content to the proposed, and recently defeated, Serious Disruption Prevention Order which was part of the new and controversial Policing Bill being pushed through. That Order would have required a person to register their associates and their movements with the police for nothing more than having been profiled and identified as an actual or potential dissident. Pushing the boundaries of repression concerning activists, anarchists and dissidents, the UK is sliding into a barely concealed dictatorship.
The hearing for the SCPO against Toby is at Bristol Crown Court on February 22nd, 2022. Please show your solidarity with Toby at 9am at the Court. Show your solidarity with him and other anarchist prisoners wherever, whenever and however you can. We need your noise and good vibes against this continued political persecution of Toby Shone.
Please translate and distribute this text in your own circles and publications. You can find more info on Toby’s case at: https://darknights.noblogs.org/post/tag/toby-shone/
You can write to Toby. Don’t forget to put a “from” (sender) address on the back of the envelope, because otherwise letters do not arrive.
19 Cambridge Road