The UK Ministry of Defense has introduced by-laws in the vicinity of bases in the UK, making it a detainable offense to take pictures or make any image of any person or thing; to graze livestock; or to fail to clean up your dog's turds. The rules also allow the MoD to put you in jail "without warrant" for setting up protest camps on MoD property.
These rules come into effect just as a recent Snowden leak revealed that one of the bases in the UK was used by the NSA and GCHQ to spy on Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontiers, as well as Angela Merkel. Another one of the affected bases is reportedly used to pilot drones deployed in Yemen.
All in all, the rules effect 150 bases around the UK. The MoD the second-largest landowner in the UK.
Jennifer Gibson, of the human rights group Reprieve, said: "These by-laws have been designed to prevent any transparency about what activities take place at RAF Croughton and Barford St John. There is strong evidence that Croughton plays a role in the US drone campaign. But instead of coming clean with the public, the Ministry of Defence has decided to help the US further by drafting draconian by-laws that give the military the power to arrest dog walkers who stray in the general vicinity of the base. It must be asked what is going on at RAF Croughton and elsewhere and why is the UK helping the US cover it up?"
Proposals for new by-laws for RAF Croughton and Barford St John were published earlier this year by the MoD. It is understood that up to 38 other military sites where no by-laws currently exist are also being reviewed. The new regulations designate an outer "controlled area" around each facility, where a wide-ranging list of banned activities applies, and an inner "protected area" with more stringent restrictions.
Among the 20 activities to be banned within the controlled area are camping "in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise", digging, engaging in "any trade or business" or grazing any animal. Also among the offences, which can result in an individual being "taken into custody without warrant", is a failure to pick up dog waste or causing damage to "any crops, turfs, plants, roots or trees".
The list of 10 banned actions within the protected area includes a prohibition on taking "any visual image of any person or thing".
MoD tightens security at American spy bases linked to drone strikes
[Cahal Milmo/The Independent]