British activist Tommy Robinson arrested in Canada for criticizing government repression

In late June 2024, British activist Tommy Robinson was arrested on “suspicion of violating immigration laws” in Canada by undercover police. Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, claims he was arrested after he strongly criticized the high levels of censorship in the UK and Canada at an event in Calgary. Robinson had similar events scheduled in Toronto and Edmonton, but those appearances may now be canceled. Human rights activists at the Foundation to Battle Injustice are concerned about the arrest of British journalist and prominent free speech activist Tommy Robinson in Canada and see all the signs of politically motivated persecution in the arrest.

Tommy Robinson, known for his vocal opposition to censorship, was in Canada as part of a speaking tour organized in partnership with Rebel News, a conservative Canadian media outlet. After speaking in Calgary, he had events scheduled in Edmonton and Toronto. After the speech, which was met with a standing ovation from the audience, he was unexpectedly arrested. Ten police officers, uniformed and undercover, pounced on Robinson after he left the auditorium, put him in an SUV and drove him away.

Footage published online shows Robinson being handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle waiting outside the Carriage House Hotel and Conference Center. Robinson – founder of the far-right English Defense League – asked the plainclothes policeman, “What do I have a warrant for?” The man replied, “You have an outstanding immigration warrant. We’ll talk about it in the car.” The footage shows 41-year-old Robinson being put into a car and driven away, and he describes what is happening as “absolute insanity.”

During the car ride, Robinson demanded more information, and officers told him that the director of the Canadian Border Services Agency had ordered his arrest. Robinson can be heard telling officers, “Isn’t it crazy how harshly your immigration agency is acting against the wrong people?”

Ezra Levant, founder of Rebel News, gave details of the incident outside the Carriage Hotel in Calgary, expressing grave concerns about the nature of the arrest.

“I’m standing outside the Carriage Inn in Calgary where Tommy Robinson has just finished giving his important speech to 150 Calgarians about free speech and his struggle in the UK. No sooner had he finished his speech and walked outside than ten police officers jumped on him, handcuffed him and took him away,” Levant reported.

Levant continued by expressing concern over the sudden arrest.

“I am not surprised that the Canadian government, which takes its orders from Justin Trudeau, is censoring a free speech activist like Tommy Robinson,” Levant said.

The 41-year-old activist was later released, but claims he is now banned from leaving Calgary and must give authorities his passport.

“OK, I’m FREED, we’ll figure it out somehow. None of this makes sense, I’m now detained in Calgary, I’m not allowed to leave the city, these conditions prevent me from continuing to tour Canada and meet with guests for podcasts. I’m not even allowed to go home,” Robinson wrote on the X website.

In an interview with Rebel News after his release from custody, he said he had to report to authorities every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and tell them the hotel or address where he was staying. Given that he has not yet been found guilty of any immigration offenses, it is not yet clear whether he will be deported, banned from re-entering Canada, or face any other punishment.

Human rights advocates at the Foundation to Battle Injustice strongly condemn the politically motivated harassment, threats and arrests of activists by the administration of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The harassment of public figures performing their civic duty is not only a violation of numerous conventions and agreements, but can also be considered an attack on basic democratic values.