US Deports Heathrow Campaigner

John Stewart questioned for 5 hours in New York

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A leading campaigner against the third runway at Heathrow has been deported from the United States . John Stewart, 62, who heads the anti-airport expansion protest group , HACAN, was escorted off a KLM flight- which had flown into New York from Heathrow- and taken for questioning yesterday. He was later put on a flight back to the UK.

Mr Stewart, 62,was believed to have fallen foul of the US's strict visa entry requirements because he planned to spend a month travelling across the country campaigning against airport expansion plans throughout the United States.

One of his fellow HACAN activists, Monica Robb, described the deportation as' scandalous”.

“ I suspect it's because he's a campaigner. They are paranoid.

"I don't think he's got any criminal convictions, he is not that sort of a person. He is a very mild-mannered person, but very persistent."

Mr Stewart, who lives in Clapham, has led the campaign against the expansion of Heathrow since the Nineties. He is thought to have attempted to enter the US via its visa waiver programme, which permits UK citizens to enter the States for up to 90 days for "business or pleasure".

In an email to supporters, Mr. Stewart remarked : "Refused entry to US. Put on plane back to UK. Back Friday morning."

He was to have been joined by activist Dan Glass, a self-confessed "freedom fighter" who belongs to the Plane Stupid Scotland campaign group. However, Mr Glass did not travel because he has a criminal conviction for breach of the peace.

Mr Glass said there were 3,400 airport construction and development projects planned across the US that "make the Heathrow third runway campaign look like a walk in the park".

Prior to departing for the US, Mr Stewart had denied charges of hypocrisy, not only for taking a long-haul flight, but for using Heathrow. He said the protest against expansion plans at the airport - cancelled by the Government - had been primarily against short-haul flights to Europe.

"I don't feel it is hypocritical. I feel comfortable about it. There would be a lot of hypocrisy if I were flying to Frankfurt."

He had planned to address activists in Chicago, California and Seattle. He said: "They are keen to hear about our success”.

September 30, 2011