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International criticism for 2010 Olympic security

VANCOUVER - Delegates at an international sports conference in England have denounced the tactics of the RCMP-led Vancouver Olympic security force.

The Coventry Declaration was issued Friday at the end of the sixth Play the Game conference at Coventry University. It condemns "any action in Canada that in any way, shape or form harasses, intimidates or threatens any writers or individuals who express ideas through words."

The declaration proposed by Toronto journalist Laura Robinson was in reaction to a June 3 incident involving Chris Shaw, author of the Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games.

Shaw, an ophthalmologist, was approached by two plainclothes police officers from the Joint Intelligence Group of the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit near his Vancouver laboratory. He declined their request for a private meeting to talk about opposition to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Fourteen other members of the Olympic Resistance Network said they were either visited at their homes or near their workplaces by plainclothes officers on June 3 or 4.

Shaw, who spoke at Play the Game, claimed he was detained by United Kingdom customs officers when he arrived in the country for the conference.

The declaration also asks the governments of Canada, British Columbia and Vancouver, along with V2010 ISU and the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee, to "state in unequivocal language" that they will protect and respect security of the person and freedom of expression for all Canadians and visitors.

VANOC vice-president of communications Renee Smith-Valade declined comment.

V2010 ISU Sgt. Mike Cote said the Coventry Declaration corresponds with the Olympic security force's guiding principles: "Very Canadian, subtle yet prepared and it will be in line with Canadian laws and values."

"V2010 ISU is committed to and will continue to uphold and respect individuals Charter rights in accordance with Canadian laws all the while ensuring safe and secure Winter Games for Canadians and visitors to Canada," he said in an emailed statement.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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