Activist suing police over lockdown arrest

Right-wing activist Avi Yemini claims he was falsely imprisoned and battered by police officers.
Right-wing activist Avi Yemini claims he was falsely imprisoned and battered by police officers.

Right-wing activist Avi Yemini is suing Victoria Police over his arrest at two protests, accusing the force of false imprisonment, battery and hindering his career as a journalist.

Mr Yemini filed action against the police force in the Supreme Court this week, over his arrests earlier this month and in January.

He claims to be the Australian correspondent for conservative Canadian news outlet Rebel News, which has previously peddled conspiracy theories against climate change and Islam.

In a crowdfunding campaign for his lawsuit, Mr Yemini said Premier Daniel Andrews had been "governing like a little tyrant" and speculated the lawsuit would prompt the premier to "probably try to smash me even harder now".

In a nine-page statement of claim Mr Yemini asks for a jury trial to determine if he should receive damages for physical injuries, lost income, stress and humiliation, and the impact on his reputation.

He was arrested on September 5 at an anti-lockdown rally in Albert Park and argues in the suit he wasn't told at the time why he was being arrested but later that he had hindered police and been asked to move because he was between police lines.

He disputes that claim and says he was falsely imprisoned and battered by officers.

Mr Yemini says he was "manhandled, thrown to the ground and put into handcuffs" and that the handcuffs caused him hand and wrist injuries.

He's also suing over his arrest at an Australia Day protest earlier this year, again accusing officers of false imprisonment and battery.

Mr Yemini says Victoria Police targeted him, moved him on without proper basis and prevented his work as a journalist "reporting on and publicising his views about the protests".

He alleges he was "manhandled, handcuffed and locked in a police vehicle". He has challenged the reason for him being handcuffed, saying he was "purportedly being arrested and imprisoned for his own safety and protection from protesters".

Mr Yemini wants three types of damages from the state, arguing his capacity to work has a journalist has been hampered, including by his reluctance to attend and report on further protests which is causing a loss of earnings.

Rebel News describes itself as fearlessly taking on the "media party" by challenging mainstream views, while describing the organisation's world view as "generally conservative".

The site has counted among its contributors far right wing activitsts Tommy Robinson and Lauren Southern, as well as conservative British commentator Katie Hopkins and former Labor leader Mark Latham.

In a crowdfunding campaign on the site Mr Yemini has estimated the legal fight will cost $50,000 and has called for donations.

"You give me the tools, I'll finish the job - and fight for freedom for all of us," he wrote.

Australian Associated Press