Palestine Action co-founder arrested for blackmail two days after successful Elbit factory shutdown

Feb 3, 2021

Palestine Action co-founder arrested for blackmail two days after successful Elbit factory shutdown

  • Richard Barnard was arrested for blackmail at approximately 15:00 on Wednesday and taken to Fresh Wharf Custody Base
  • Barnard and co-founder Huda Ammori had their house raided and passports seized
  • Barnard’s arrest comes a day after eight activists from Palestine Action and Extinction Rebellion North were released from custody after shutting down Elbit-Ferranti in Oldham for 16 hours on Monday

Since hearing about the arrest, demonstrators have been gathering outside Fresh Wharf Custody Base in Barking to protest an escalating pattern of police harassment and intimidation against human rights activists.

Commenting on Barnard’s arrest yesterday afternoon, Ammori said:

“The only thing we can assume this is about is [Palestine Action] demanding that companies do not associate with war criminals, and if they do we will take action. This is not blackmail. This is asking for companies to abide by International Law and Human Rights Conventions.

“This is just another extension of harassment by the police. We will not be deterred by police harassment; we will only grow stronger and call on everyone to join us in forcing war criminals out”.

Monday’s action – which allegedly cost the company £20,000 of damage – marked six months since Palestine Action’s inception, and coincided with news that the Ministry of Defence handed Elbit a £102 million contract for new “sensor to shoot” systems.

The factory siege was the first collaboration between Extinction Rebellion and Palestine Action. The two direct-action groups have vowed to escalate their actions until “Elbit Systems is shut down for good and all systemic injustice ends.” 

Following the action, Palestine Action’s Facebook page was taken down on Tuesday for ‘violating’ the social media giant’s community standards, despite only sharing content from XR North’s page which was not affected. 

Police have previously raided the homes of numerous activists allegedly linked to Palestine Action and seized their devices. Barnard and Ammori were even stopped under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which enables police officers to interrogate individuals for prolonged periods of time without the standard safeguards. The pair were interrogated for several hours before being arrested, having refused to hand over laptop passwords.

Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms firm and has 10 sites across the UK, including four weapons factories. The company provides the Israeli military with over 80% of its drone fleet, including the Hermes 450 and 900, used extensively in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2014, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed. 

Palestine Action aims to shut down Elbit’s UK operation and has hit the firm’s sites, and those of their landlord LaSalle Investment Management, around 40 times since launching in August 2020. Alongside Monday’s siege of Elbit-Ferranti, these actions include shutting down UAV Engines in Shenstone on three occasions (the most notorious of which caused £145,000 of damage), and a series of occupations and public protests at Elbit’s London HQ.


Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange interview contact: 07840150925

Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking direct action against Elbit Systems’ UK locations at grassroots level, calling for them all to be shut down and for the British government to end its complicity in Israeli apartheid.

Use of Elbit Systems’ equipment in Gaza:

Huda Ammori’s statement on Richard Barnard’s arrest:

Video of Richard Barnard’s arrest: 

UK turns to “counterterror” law to repress Palestine Action: 

Donate towards the numerous devices confiscated from activists by police: 

Ministry of Defence signs £102 million contract with Elbit Systems UK ​​​​​​for “sensor-to-shoot” system:

Facebook is violating its own ‘community standards’ and should delete itself (Palestine Action statement): 

Monday’s shutdown of Elbit-Ferranti in collaboration with Extinction Rebellion North