Australian activist Drew Pavlou has said he was the victim of an “orchestrated campaign” before his arrest over a false “bomb threat” after it emerged that human rights leaders and politicians have been receiving emails from an account purporting to be him in recent days.
Pavlou was arrested after a “small peaceful human rights protest” outside the Chinese embassy in London, where he intended to glue his hand to the outside of the embassy building.
Before his arrest, an account purporting to be Pavlou sent what he described as an “absurd” false bomb threat to the Chinese embassy in central London. The email is alleged to have said:
“This is Drew Pavlou, you have until 12pm to stop the Uyghur genocide or I blow up the embassy with a bomb. Regards, Drew.”
The embassy reported him to police as a suspected terrorist in response.
Guardian Australia has confirmed that other human rights leaders have received apparently fake emails from Pavlou in recent days. Luke de Pulford, a London-based human rights campaigner, said he had received a flurry of emails purporting to be from Pavlou, including one referencing the recent removal of tariffs by the United States on Chinese imports.
“Begs the questions, is there really genocide in China?” the email said.
At least one of the emails sent to de Pulford was also sent to Kevin Carrico, a senior lecturer in Chinese Studies at Monash University.
Carrico confirmed to the Guardian he had been receiving emails from a Gmail account purporting to belong to Pavlou as far back as 2020. He has received three emails from the account this month, including one which called him a “clown” and another that called him “fatso”.
The account sending emails to de Pulford was different to the account used to send emails to the Chinese embassy.
The ABC also reported that the Liberal senator James Paterson and other human rights leaders had received emails purported to come from Pavlou.
Speaking from London, Pavlou said he had been subject to an “orchestrated campaign”.
“Fake Drew Pavlou emails continue to be sent to politicians and human rights leaders,” he told the Guardian. “I just want this mental torture to stop.”
“I’ve slept five hours in two days. I’m so tired.”
The Metropolitan police confirmed it had received a report of a bomb threat made by email. It said it had arrested a man outside the embassy because of his “suspicious behaviour”.
“At around 4.30pm on 21 June, a man was detained at the Chinese embassy in Portland Place due to his suspicious behaviour. He was found to be in possession of a quantity of glue and had attempted to glue his hand to the outside of the embassy building.
“The man was arrested on suspicion of trespass on diplomatic premises, communicating false information to make a bomb hoax and criminal damage.”
The foreign affairs department confirmed it was offering consular assistance to Pavlou.
“Officials from Australia’s High Commission in London will raise Mr Pavlou’s claim that he was denied consular access before being released with UK authorities,” a spokesperson said.
Pavlou’s activism has concentrated on China’s authoritarian regime and its treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority.