LONDON — A French publisher urged British police on Wednesday to drop an inquiry into an employee who was detained on his way to the London Book Fair and questioned for hours about French President Emmanuel Macron’s government and pension reforms that triggered months of demonstrations.

Ernest Moret, foreign rights manager at Editions La Fabrique, was released on Tuesday, but his phone and work computer were taken by police, and he was ordered to return to the UK in four weeks, according to the publisher.
The circumstances surrounding Moret’s arrest remained unknown two days after he was arrested and questioned after arriving at St. Pancras railway station from Paris on Monday night.

The Metropolitan Police in London refused to identify Moret or explain why he was detained.

However, a police spokeswoman stated that when Moret arrived at the railway station, a 28-year-old guy was interviewed by port officials under a legislation that authorizes them to question someone who may be implicated in terrorism. An officer may stop and interrogate someone if there is no reason to assume the person is or has been involved in terrorism, according to the law.
According to the publishers, authorities justified questioning Moret by stating he took part in the tumultuous rallies over Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

According to the publisher, French authorities were complicit in the situation and “whispered” queries to their British counterparts. Along with the “disturbing questions” regarding the French government, Moret was asked to name anti-government authors with whom the publisher collaborated.

“Asking the representative of a publishing house, in an anti-terrorism context, questions about his authors’ opinions means pushing even further the logic of political censorship and repression of dissenting views,” La Fabrique explained. “In a context of increasing authoritarianism on the part of the French government, in the midst of a social movement, this element is chilling.”
The man was arrested on charges of wilfully impeding their investigation, according to police.

Moret was arrested, according to the publisher, for refusing to disclose passwords to open his phone.

According to the law, a person being questioned under the Terrorism Act of 2000 may be deemed in violation if they do not reveal passwords or codes to open electronic devices.

According to a Metropolitan Police spokesperson, the suspect was released on bail on Tuesday evening. Although no charges were filed, the investigation was not terminated.

The French Foreign Ministry stated that it has no information or comment on the detention. It claimed to have provided Moret with consular protection.



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