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Thought Crime?

Post by malcks »

Or just FEAR? (False Evidence Apears Real!!)

Scottish student dubbed 'wannabe suicide bomber' freed after appeal court quashes terror conviction

Feb 9 2010

A STUDENT branded a "wannabe suicide bomber" walked free from court today after judges overturned his conviction on terrorism charges.

Mohammed Atif Siddique, from Alva, Clackmannanshire, was released after prosecutors said they would not be seeking a retrial.

His family wept and hugged outside court following the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh.

Siddique was the first person to be found guilty of Islamist terror charges in Scotland.

He was convicted in 2007 of two charges under the Terrorism Act 2000, one under the Terrorism Act 2006 and a breach of the peace.

He was found guilty under the main terror charge of possessing articles which gave rise to a reasonable suspicion that they were for "a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism".

But three senior judges last month said the 24-year-old suffered a miscarriage of justice when the trial judge misdirected the jury.

And today they formally overturned the most serious conviction, which earned him six years of his sentence.

Supporters applauded as Siddique walked out of court following the ruling.

In a statement read out by his solicitor, Aamer Anwar, on the court steps, Siddique said: "I have always maintained my innocence, but they took my liberty, destroyed my family's reputation and labelled me a terrorist but I never had any bombs or plans to hurt anyone.

"In court it was said I was a wannabe suicide bomber, but I have always said I was simply looking for answers on the internet."

Siddique's convictions on two lesser terrorism charges were not affected by the Appeal Court judgment and he has served his sentence for them.

Siddique was accompanied by his mother, Parveen, father, Mohammed Siddique Snr, and a number of other relatives as he left court.

In his statement, he said: "Our laws should bring to account those who plan acts of terror and not criminalise young Muslims for thought crime and possession of propaganda.

"I am grateful to those who supported me. I just want to go home now and live my life in peace."

He gave no further comment to the media as he headed towards a waiting 4x4 vehicle.

Mr Anwar said: "At the end of Atif's trial I stated on his behalf 'The verdict was a tragedy for justice and freedom of speech'.

"After nearly four years of struggle, the highest court in the land has ruled a miscarriage of justice took place and given a young man his freedom back."

The shopkeeper's son was a student at Glasgow's Metropolitan College when he was arrested at Glasgow Airport in April 2006 while waiting for a flight to Lahore in Pakistan.

After a four-week trial, which took place shortly after the attack on Glasgow Airport, he was found guilty of the main charge of possessing articles in circumstances which gave rise to a "reasonable suspicion" of a connection with terrorism.

He was also convicted of a breach of the peace by showing his fellow students pictures of beheadings and by threatening to become a suicide bomber in Glasgow.

Another charge involved setting up websites providing instructions on how to make or use firearms and explosives, while a fourth conviction centred on the distribution of terrorist publications via the websites.

Siddique argued that he was not a terrorist but someone with a general interest in the motives of terrorists who had merely researched the subject.

During an appeal hearing last year, his lawyers argued that much of the material in his possession, which helped secure his conviction, was widely available online.

Donald Findlay QC also argued that the judge in the original trial, Lord Carloway, had failed to direct the jury that a connection must be established between materials Siddique was found with and a specific act of terrorism.

Lord Osborne, sitting with Lords Reed and Clarke, agreed last month that Siddique's conviction on the main terrorism charge "amounts to a miscarriage of justice" and said they were "minded" to quash his conviction.

They found that the way the trial judge explained aspects surrounding the Terrorism Act 2000, and the defence available to it, amounted to a "material misdirection".

Guidance on this area has since been issued by the House of Lords but it was not available to the judge at the time of the trial.

The senior judges quashed the conviction today after the Crown said it would not try to prosecute Siddique again.

The Crown Office said Siddique remained convicted of serious terrorist offences.

In a statement, it said: "After careful consideration of the Appeal Court's judgment, the Crown has decided not to seek authority for a retrial.

"The fact that Mr Siddique has already served the majority of his sentence for charge one, and has de facto served his sentence in full for the other terrorist offences, of which he remains convicted, means that a retrial would have little practical effect.

"Accordingly, the Crown has concluded that a retrial would not be in the public interest."
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