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The Facts about Bollyn's Detention in Britain

January 17, 2014

On January 5, Ken O'Keefe, an articulate American human rights activist known for his bravery during the murderous Israeli military assault on the Mavi Marmara, invited me to be on hisMiddle East Show on People's Voice TV. 

Ken O'Keefe was a participant in the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.

O'Keefe was beaten bloody by the Israelis who seized him during their murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara - in international waters - in the early hours of May 31, 2010, as the humanitarian aid flotilla approached Gaza. The Israelis killed 9 of the human rights activists, including a young American, who were trying to bring humanitarian aid to the besieged population of Gaza.

I had helped Ken with the final editing of his script for the show, which is about the false-flag terrorism of 9-11, and gladly accepted his invitation to be on the show, which was scheduled to be produced in the Wembley studio of People's Voice TV on January 12, 2014. 

The People’s Voice is a free global internet television station which began broadcasting on November 25, 2013. 

I booked my flight from Sweden to Heathrow (London) on British Airways.  Ken invited me to stay at his flat in London and said he would meet me at the airport.  He had planned to film a second interview with me on Wednesday, January 15, so I planned to arrive at Heathrow on Saturday morning, January 11, and leave on Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. citizens do not require visas to visit Britain and are not required to present evidence that they have hotel reservations, so I was confident that my visit would be smooth and worthwhile.  When I went to my gate for the flight to London I passed through Swedish passport control and was reminded that Britain is not a member of the Shengen Area, which is virtually all of Western Europe. When traveling between nations in the Shengen Zone there are no passport controls so it is unusual to have to present your passport on national borders in Europe.

The British Airways flight to Heathrow arrived shortly after noon, at 12:20 p.m., and the weather was sunny and warm for January.  As an American, I went to the passport control line for all nations outside of the European Union.  It was 1:05 p.m. when I was interviewed by the U.K. Border Force immigration officer.

I presented my passport and landing card, which I had filled out during the flight.  On the line where I was asked where I would be staying, I wrote Ken O'Keefe, Paddington, London.  The night before flying I had called Ken.  He told me that he would not be able to meet me at the airport and that I should take the train to Paddington Station and find a cafe to wait for an hour until he could meet me and take me to his place.

The immigration officer, a woman of non-English background, looked at her computer screen, then at my passport, and then commented that I had "a big hat."  I told her that I had come from Sweden where it is cold and rainy.  She asked me to take my hat off so she could see my face in full.  I raised my hat and then asked if I could put it back on my head.  She then asked me an odd question about why I needed to wear my hat.  I told her that if I didn't wear it on my head then I would have to carry it in my hand.

She then asked me what was the purpose of my visit.  I told her that I was coming to meet a friend and to do a bit of family research.  I explained that I had been invited to participate in an interview with Ken O'Keefe and that I would be staying with him at his home.  She then asked me how long I had known O'Keefe and I said that I had first been in contact with him in 2010.  I explained that the invitation had been extended by email.  She asked to see the emails and told me to open up my laptop to show them.  I asked if she had an outlet for power because my battery is dead. 

I answered all of her questions completely and honestly.  She wanted to know O'Keefe's complete address and since I don't know his address, I gave her his phone number so she could call him.  After a few more minutes of questions, she handed me a piece of paper and told me that I was being detained.  I was told to wait at the chairs facing the immigration control booths. 

The slip of paper, which says U.K. Border Agency at the top, simply says:  "I am detaining you" and "I have also detained your passport, identity card, or travel document."  Under "Reasons for detention" a box is checked that says "I have further enquiries to make and more questions to ask you."

I waited and the hours passed.  After about three hours a man came and introduced himself as an officer of the Metro police.  He said that he knew Ken O'Keefe and he knew my books.  He asked me about my address in Sweden and explained that his obligation is to protect the national security of his country.  He said his name was David.

I continued to wait and was glad when an immigration officer came and asked me if I would like something to drink.  She brought me a tiny cup of tea and a package of cookies.  At this point I was quite famished.  She said her name was Isabel.

After another hour or so, she reappeared with another female officer and asked me to bring my baggage and follow her.  She took me to a back room with a table and chairs.  She asked me to put my bags on the table.  I only had a small carry-on and my laptop.  She and the other officer went through every thing in my bags and on my person.  They removed every piece of paper from my wallet and made photo-copies of everything, even the entries on my new calendar.  They had even photo-copied a card with an angel on it that a friend had sent in 1997.  The card, which my wife had put in my bag, said, "God's angels are watching over you."

Then they took me to an adjacent room and took a complete set of fingerprints and a photo for their pink file, which seemed to have a dozen pages of material by this point.

I was then taken to a detention cell, which was run by Tascor, a privately-owned company. This was a prison-type room that had a pay phone on the wall.  I had one British Pound coin, which my wife had found just before I left Sweden.  I used this coin to call Ken and informed him that I was detained at Heathrow airport.  Ken called my wife and told her about my situation.  She was then able to reach me by using the public phone's number.

At about 8 p.m., after seven hours of detention, I was taken to another room where I was interrogated by the immigration officer named Isabel.  She explained that she had to write the entire interrogation down and that I had to sign each page as we went along.  During this interrogation she asked me if I had any convictions in Sweden.  I said no.  Then she asked me if I had any convictions in America and I said that I had two misdemeanor convictions from the undercover police attack I suffered at my home in August 2006.

I was then taken back to the detention cell.  After an hour Isabel came to the cell with a piece a paper.  She told me that it had been decided that I would not be allowed to enter Britain and that I would be deported (i.e. "removed") to Sweden on the first plane the following day, BA790 to Gothenburg at 7:35 on January 12.  She asked me if that was "O.K." with me. 

The "Notice of Refusal of Leave to Enter" says this: 

You have asked for leave to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor until 15th January 2014, but from information available to me, it seems right to me to refuse you leave to enter in the grounds [sic] that exclusion from the United Kingdom is conducive to the public good.  This is due to the fact that by your own admission you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest in the USA since 2007. You have further admitted that you left the USA prior to sentencing and have not returned since time.

This indicates that it took UK Border Force eight hours to come up with a reason to deny me entry to the U.K.  The interrogation, in which I had provided these details, had only occurred after seven hours of detention.  Likewise, the authorities had only called O'Keefe at about 3 p.m., according to his recollection, which means that where I was to be staying was not the real reason for my detention.

I tried to sleep on the chairs but it was very uncomfortable and the lights were left on.  I was monitored the entire time by two Tascor employees who sat at a desk behind a large window that allowed them to watch me.  The minutes passed very slowly.

After midnight I was woken by a Tascor employee who said that I was to be moved to another detention cell.  This involved being taken out into the cold night and driven to another facility.  The new cell was smaller and less comfortable.  There was no bed and I tried to sleep on the chairs as I had in the previous cell.  Another detainee, an Albanian, was brought into the cell and with all the talking and making of coffees from the machine in front of me, I did not get any sleep at all.

Finally, at 5 a.m. I was taken to the bathroom and given a towel and some soap.  I showered and dressed and waited in the cell for the 6 a.m. transport to the plane.  I was kneeling on the floor saying a prayer when the Tascor guard entered the cell and asked me if I was alright.  I told her that I was praying. She told me that I would soon be taken to the plane.

At 6 a.m. two Tascor employees took me and my baggage in a police-type van to the British Airways ticket counter where my travel documents were issued.  Due to the early hour, I was the only person there.  I talked with the driver who accompanied me as he seemed interested in what I had to say.  

Finally, at about 7 a.m. I was driven to the aircraft.  The van drove right up to the steps leading up to the plane.  I said good-bye to the two Tascor employees and entered the plane.  I was met by the purser and I asked him for a window seat.  He gave me a window seat in the rear of the plane.  I was the only person, apart from the crew, on the plane.

At the rear of the plane were two British Airways stewards, a man and a woman.  They said good morning and asked how I was doing.  I told them that I had been in detention for 16 hours and that I was very hungry.  They were interested and asked what had happened.  I explained the basics.  The man then said that he had just read about a 9-11 activist who was married to a South American woman. 

I knew he was talking about Kurt Sonnenfeld, the FEMA videographer who had discovered that the vault beneath WTC Building 6, the U.S. Customs House, had been cleaned out the night before 9-11.  Sonnenfeld is currently living in Argentina.

They brought me some orange juice and a croissant sandwich right away. At about 7:30 a.m. the passengers were allowed on the plane and we left for Sweden.  I watched the sun rise over the English landscape as we headed East for the flight over the North Sea.

Just before we began the approach to Gothenburg, the steward handed me a plastic bag and said "Celebrate your escape."  I looked inside and found two small bottles of champagne, a very kind gesture that brought a tear to my eye.

It had been an emotional day for me and my emotions were just under the surface.  I had first noticed this when the plane had passed over the Tower of London on the way to London.  Tears had come to my eyes when I thought of the murders of George and Queen Anne Boleyn in May 1536.  In my family there have been several Annes and the children have always been told that they are related to Anne Boleyn.  Since my Bollyn ancestors came to the U.S. from Switzerland I have been trying to find out more about this branch of my family.

When I arrived in Gothenburg, I was the last one in the passport control line.  I went up to the window and presented my passport.  The immigration lady clearly saw something on her screen that alerted her about my status.  She called her colleague over and they stared at the screen for a minute before turning to me.  The man asked me, "Why were you refused entry to Britain?"

I said he would have to ask the British authorities about that because I did not know why.  After a couple minutes the lady stamped my passport and I was allowed to pass. 

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