A former Queen’s student who helped found the university’s Palestine Solidarity Society in 2010 has been detained in Israel and deported to the UK.
Gary Spedding, who is also a member of the Alliance Party, was detained by immigration officials in Tel Aviv on Thursday afternoon.
He posted a message on Twitter confirming his detention and added: “Lots of threats, they’ve went [sic] right through my phone. I’m about to be transferred to detention centre.”
In a Facebook post just before boarding a plane to London he said: “I’m overwhelmed with positive feelings & I’m grateful for everyone who is expressing solidarity & working hard on my behalf. Remember – it’s this ridiculous, paranoid, hateful and fear-based system that’s the problem here, not Israelis as a people. Israelis do, however, have an opportunity to push for accountability and a better system that doesn’t persecute activists and human rights conscious people.”
East Belfast MP Naomi Long said: “Gary, who is a member of the party’s youth wing, was travelling in a personal capacity; however, I was concerned to learn he had been detained and I was understandably worried for his welfare.”
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and Amnesty International NI have also spoken out against Mr Spedding’s detention.
The SDLP MP said it was “outrageous” he was being “prevented from engaging in normal democratic activity”.
Speaking yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are aware of a planned deportation of a British national from Tel Aviv and are providing consular assistance.”