Spedding, 23, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 4pm local time (2pm Dublin time) on Thursday afternoon, where upon presenting his passport at Security, was asked to step aside and wait. According to +972 magazine, airport officers took the Briton to an investigation room and questioned him for a number of hours, which included taking his mobile phone “for around five hours” and copying information from it.
Gary Spedding is an LGBT political blogger and activist from England, who studied at Queen’s University Belfast. While he has written extensively on LGBT issues in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK, he is well known for his critical analyses of both Israeli politics and Palestinian support campaigns, including his criticism of Israel over so-called ‘pinkwashing’. During his time in Belfast, he founded the Palestinian Solidarity Society at Queen’s University, and has had political ties with both the SDLP and the Alliance Party, having worked as campaigns officer for Alliance Youth.
Spedding regularly posted to his Twitter account while being detained at the Israeli airport, adding that he had been subjected to a “horrendous set of searches including [a] very personally invasive ‘body search’”:
Being detained at Israeli immigration. Lots of threats, they’ve went right through my phone. I’m about to be transferred to detention centre
— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) January 9, 2014
“They told me they’d hold me for nine days until my return flight, so as not to have to pay for my deportation,” Spedding said. The security team questioning Spedding then changed, and one official told him a decision was made to deport him and ban him from Israel for 10 years. “I was told this was a fact, not a threat, and there was nothing neither I or my government could do,” said Spedding, who is a dual Australian and British citizen.
Once his phone had been returned to him, the LGBT activist posted onto Twitter that he had been in contact with members of the European Parliament, British Parliament, Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament), the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Despite his time spent in Northern Ireland, it is uncertain what influence Irish authorities would have regarding a British citizen in this case.