Greenpeace UK staff member deported from India

Organisation demands action from UK Foreign Secretary

Press release - September 23, 2014
New Delhi, September 22, 2014: A UK national working for Greenpeace has been barred from entering India in the latest clampdown by the Indian government on the work of the environmental group.

Ben Hargreaves, a Briton who had been travelling to India for a meeting at the local Greenpeace office, was stopped by immigration officials at Delhi airport last week and told he could not enter the country although he had previously travelled to India without any problems.

Hargreaves was immediately put on a plane and deported back to London despite having a valid business visa. He was not given any explanation for his deportation.
Greenpeace UK Executive Director, John Sauven, has written to the UK Foreign Secretary requesting an explanation from the Indian Minister for External Affairs. He also raised concerns about the cases of other British nationals visiting Greenpeace India who have been detained and interrogated at Indian airports.

The deportation of Ben Hargreaves is just the latest in a series of attempts by the Indian government to hinder the work of the environmental group. Only days ago the government was ordered by the Delhi High Court to unblock the transfer of international donations to Greenpeace India. The funds had been frozen without any explanation or evidence of any wrongdoing.

Commenting on the latest development, John Sauven, Greenpeace UK executive director, said: "We fail to understand why Ben wasn't allowed to return to India when he has all the appropriate permits. This is not the first time that our staff members have been subjected to unfair treatment as they tried to enter the country – this is unacceptable. We have written to the British Government asking them to raise the issue with the authorities in Delhi. Greenpeace operates in over 30 countries around the world. We are a legitimate part of global civil society. It's very disturbing that the authorities in the world's largest democracy should act in such an arbitrary way."

Samit Aich, Executive Director, Greenpeace India, said: "This looks like yet another incident of what has become a systematic clampdown by the government on Greenpeace and its staff. But we are not deterred by such undemocratic acts. We are very proud of our legacy and our values of non-violence. No act of intimidation will break our resolve to protect the environment and we will not shy away from asking tough questions to the highest authority."

In recent years, Greenpeace India has stepped up its campaign to protect community rights and ancient forests in the Mahan region of Madhya Pradesh, where a proposed coal mine by a UK registered company, Essar, threatens people's livelihoods and biodiversity.

Last month, India's Supreme Court ruled that all coal mining licences awarded during the so-called 'coal allocation scam' between 1993 and 2010, including the one covering Mahan, are illegal.

For further information Contact:
Jagori Dhar, Media Manager, Greenpeace India: 9811200481;
Anindita Datta Chouhdury, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India: 9871515804;
Pari Trivedi, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: 9873495994;