Sunday, June 01, 2008

Journalist tries to arrest US War criminal in Uk


John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, escaped a citizen’s arrest Wednesday night as he addressed an audience in Britain. We speak to George Monbiot, the British activist and columnist who tried to arrest Bolton. Monbiot says Bolton is a war criminal for his role in helping to initiate the US invasion of Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, escaped a citizen’s arrest Wednesday night as he addressed an audience gathered at the Hay Festival in Wales. Security guards blocked the path of columnist and activist George Monbiot, who tried to make the arrest as Bolton left the stage. Monbiot planned the action, because he says Bolton is a war criminal for his role in helping to initiate the invasion of Iraq in 2003 while he served as US undersecretary of state for arms control.

George Monbiot joins us now on the phone from England. He is a widely read columnist for the Guardian of London and the author of numerous books. His latest is Bring On the Apocalypse: Collected Writing. Actually, he joins us now from Wales.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, George Monbiot.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Thanks very much, Amy. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us exactly what happened.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, I made my intention clear to perform a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton. I wrote a charge sheet detailing exactly the role that he had played in launching a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, which is a clear violation of the Nuremberg Principles. And I took a dossier of evidence down to the local police station. I asked them to act on it. But when they failed to arrest Mr. Bolton, I tried to arrest him myself, and I tried to get up onto the stage as he was leaving it. And I called out, “John Robert Bolton, I am arresting you for the charge of aggression, the crime of aggression, as defined by the Nuremberg Principles.” But I was caught by two very large security guards and pulled out of the venue very quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: How does a citizen’s arrest work?

GEORGE MONBIOT: Well, under an act of Parliament here, the Serious Organised [Crime and Police] Act, a citizen has the right to arrest anyone that they suspect to be guilty of a crime who would otherwise get away from the scene or escape without being arrested, and to hand that person over to the police. Now, there is a proviso which says that if—you can only act in this way if the police are unable to act to arrest this person. In this particular case, the police were able to act and had chosen not to do so. So, had I succeeded in arresting Mr. Bolton, I would have put myself on the wrong side of the law.

Listen to the interview in full here

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