Peace prankster Mark Thomas helps nail 'net arms dealers

Excerpt from a post on Defensetech blog:

South London comedian Mark Thomas has always been a rather unusually political gag man — leading protests, giving out leading spies' cell phone numbers, launching one-man WMD inspections, showing up at a Nestle factory "dressed as a huge teddy bear, and then produc[ing] a huge ghetto-blaster playing Zimbabwe's health minister making serious allegations about Nestle's baby-milk marketing methods." Think Michael Moore meets Sy Hersh. But way more pissed off.

Thomas' most provocative stunt may have come earlier this year, when he helped a bunch of teenaged schoolgirls set up an online arms dealership. Before long, they were pricing out tanks, negotiating for grenade launchers, and — in his words — buying up stun batons and other "equipment intended for torture or ill-treatment."

It was enough to get Parliament involved. MPs "praised comedian Mark Thomas for unearthing evidence of stun batons being sold through websites in the UK," according to the BBC. And the politicians began leaning on the trade and defense ministries to do something about the sales.

Yesterday, they did. "Two men have been arrested during raids by police investigating the sale of military weapons over the internet," the Times of London reports. "The men, aged 61 and 40 years old, were detained when more than 40 police officers swooped in on two properties in Kent early this morning. Both men were arrested on suspicion of possessing prohibited weapons."

"Mark Thomas, the stand-up comedian, has done more to expose illegal arms deals than the Ministry of Defence, the Export Control Organisation and HM Revenue and Customs put together," the Guardian proclaims, "simply by searching the internet and the trade press and attending the arms fairs the British government hosts."

Link (Thanks, Noah Shachtman)