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Aviation Justice Express tour 2011

John Stewart, UK’s “most effective environmentalist” barred from entering US

Environmentalists from across the United States and Europe are surprised and outraged that John Stewart, voted the UK’s most effective environmentalist, was barred from entering the US. Stewart was invited to the US by a coalition of environmental organizations.

Media contact
Anirvan Chatterjee
Aviation Justice Express
anirvan at chatterjee.net
+1 415-944-9121

On September 29, Stewart, who does not have a criminal record and meets the requirements for the US Visa Waiver program, had his visa waiver rescinded mid-flight. He was questioned by the FBI, the Secret Service, and immigration for six hours at New York’s JFK Airport before being put back on a plane to London.

Aviation Justice, an American environmental coalition, had planned a month-long speaking tour for Stewart, set to begin on October 1. Stewart had been instrumental in the campaign to stop a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. He had chaired the diverse coalition of neighbors, environmental activists, fiscal conservatives, and local politicians which persuaded the Conservative-led government to scrap plans for a new runway. In 2008 the Independent on Sunday voted Stewart “the UK’s most effective green activist.”

Environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, says that barring a community organizer from entering the U.S. is a dangerous statement. He continued, “We need more voices, not fewer, explaining the dangers of climate change and the rational responses we must make. And though it’s a backhanded testament to John Stewart’s effectiveness, this is sad news for all of us hoping to hear what he had to say.”

Stewart said, “What seemed to concern them was that I would be discussing, as part of my talk, the role that peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience played in the Heathrow campaign. I wouldn’t be able to explain the campaign without doing so. In any case, it is completely legitimate to discuss the role of an activity which has featured so heavily in so many historical campaigns, from the American Civil Rights Movement, to the Suffragettes’ fight for the right of women to vote in the UK.”

Stewart has also won support from across Europe and the UK. Earlier today, Conservative member of the British Parliament Zac Goldsmith tweeted: “Heathrow campaigner, John Stewart barred from US. A heroic campaigner, and a gent. Utterly scandalous.”

U.S. organizers have spent over a year planning the month-long national lecture tour on aviation and the environment, and are shocked and embarrassed at their government’s actions. Another invited speaker, award-winning Scottish climate activist Dan Glass, was effectively blocked from participating because his visa application was delayed indefinitely due to special “administrative processing.”

“John Stewart is a mainstream environmentalist who we invited because of his ability to work with everybody, and for his role in helping influence people like British Prime Minister David Cameron to choose bold green solutions,” says Barnali Ghosh, a San Francisco tour organizer. “Americans needs to hear from more centrists who can build left-right coalitions.” Seattle organizer Debi Wagner asks why Stewart’s visa was rescinded mid-flight. “Barring environmentalists won’t make us any safer or healthier.”

New York organizer Dr. Frans Verhagen is outraged, but affirms that the tour will go ahead. “We will use videoconferencing to ensure that John Stewart and Dan Glass can still address our meetings. Our lecture tour still begins in New York tomorrow, as planned.”

The Aviation Justice Express is a coalition of airport watchdog, climate action, and sustainable transportation groups and activists. Endorsers include 350.org, US Citizens Aviation Watch, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, Sane Aviation for Everyone, Shut This Airport Nightmare Down, All Aboard Washington, AirportWatch, So We Stand, and Left Field Films.

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17 thoughts on “John Stewart, UK’s “most effective environmentalist” barred from entering US

  1. It is a huge compliment to Dan and John that the US government is so terrified of them and their viewpoint that it bans them from speaking physically to people in the USA. It just shows how repressive the US government is and how Obama has done nothing to change that.

    I have spoken to both, particularly Dan, but wouldn’t claim to know either well. However, I do know both well enough to know that they are no danger to the people of the USA. If they were then that might justify the bans. They are certainly a danger to vested interests in the US, which is why Obama’s government has banned them.

    The land of the free? Round objects.

    Be careful that Obama doesn’t interfere with telecommunications, so preventing people in the USA from hearing Dan and John.

    Posted by John, but not John Stewart | September 30, 2011, 5:56 pm
    • I was thinking along the same lines…..what’s the point of banning him when his words can be teleconferenced into the discussion. Then I thought……what if they interfere with the telecommunications link.

      Posted by cooeerupee | October 3, 2011, 4:21 am
  2. I find it upsetting that a community organizer with no criminal record can be stopped at the border and turned back.

    Posted by Jen Angel | September 30, 2011, 7:01 pm
    • I find it terrifying! What next? And on what basis was he denied entry to the US?

      Posted by Susan Peters | October 1, 2011, 5:02 pm
      • John Stewart is a dangerous intellectual. That is why the US government is frightened of him.

        I am old enough to remember the cold war. Then we used to laugh at the commies and their governments’ fear of dangerous intellectuals. These days the US government reminds me of those communist governments. Josef Stalin would be delighted by the way his ideology is winning out over that of his cold war enemies.

        Posted by John, but not John Stewart | October 2, 2011, 6:35 pm
  3. Whatever the intentions of the authorities, their actions will certainly backfire on them. Stewart’s work is now getting more attention than ever here in the U.S.

    Posted by Joshua Kahn Russell | October 1, 2011, 12:10 am
    • I hope people in the USA also look at what Dan and the others have done. It is non-violent direct action and it draws on the history of, amongst others, similar campaigns in the USA.

      The US government must be frightened of its own shadow. Dan is not someone to be afraid of, unless you are part of a vested interest.

      Posted by John, but not John Stewart | October 2, 2011, 6:50 pm
  4. The campaigns to highlight the problem of aviation expansion are important, because globally the industry continues to have crazy growth plans. Other sectors have to cut back their emissions, but aviation intends to keep on increasing the number of flights and passengers, ad infinitum. At huge environmental cost. Now kerosene is getting more expensive, they plan to use biofuels. This has immense and worrying implications for all of us, and the campaigners are doing the US a public service in waking them out of their slumber, to sit up and take notice of the problems they are sleepwalking into. The US government and the , American people, should be very grateful for the wake up call that this US speaking tour will provide.

    Posted by Sarah | October 1, 2011, 2:04 pm
  5. Hate to say this because yes this is wrong.
    But the guy didn’t have the correct visa, you need visa to work or talk to people, I guessing he need to get B-1 visa, it very simple don’t get the visa, they will kick you out, oh and now spend $140 on visa everytime.

    Posted by mellonmarshall (@mellonmarshall) | October 2, 2011, 4:57 pm
    • John was in full compliance with the regulations (the US-UK Visa Waiver allows for both personal and business travel), but his visa waiver authorization was rescinded literally as he was flying on the plane.

      He was questioned by police, immigration, the FBI, and the Secret Service — not because of visa issues, but because of the what he might speak about. As John says, “What seemed to concern them was that I would be discussing, as part of my talk, the role that peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience played in the Heathrow campaign.” To me, that sounds like ideological exclusion.

      Posted by Anirvan Chatterjee | October 2, 2011, 5:28 pm
  6. America Land of the enslaved

    Posted by damo | October 7, 2011, 9:31 am


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