Alert over jogger in weight vest
Armed police confronted an Iranian student wearing a weight vest while out jogging amid fears he was a suicide bomber, a police chief has said.
Goudarz Karimi, 25, was made to remove the 30kg vest by armed officers so it could be checked for explosives during the incident in Southfield Road, Oxford, at 3.20pm on Monday.
Superintendent Amanda Pearson, of Thames Valley Police, said the force was responding to a call from a member of the public who was concerned about a man wearing what he thought was a vest carrying explosives.
Officers advised the man to wear his coat over the vest when using it in future, she said.
Mr Karimi told the Oxford Mail he feared his ethnic origin sparked the concerns.
"I'm 100% sure that if I was blond with Caucasian skin type nobody would have noticed and said anything about it, but I'm of dark skin complexion and from Iran and I'm sure that's related to it," he said.
Mr Karimi, who is studying for a PhD in physiology, anatomy and genetics at Oxford University, added: "I felt a bit like my rights were violated. The police told me to take my vest off and to go home and I don't see why I should."
But the force said the decision to stop Mr Karimi "would not be made on ethnicity alone".
Ms Pearson said: "When anyone is stopped and searched in circumstances such as these, a stop and search form will be completed by the officer, so that the person stopped has a record of the reason behind the stop and who they were stopped by.
"While I appreciate that in this case being stopped and checked by the officers may have been unsettling to the gentlemen concerned, the officers were responding to a call from a member of the public who had a genuine concern and police are duty-bound to investigate any calls of this nature to ensure public safety."