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Extremist downloaders freed


Convictions unsafe

British Muslim students jailed for downloading propaganda material from extremist Websites have been freed after an Appeal court decided that their convictions were unsafe.

The Lord Chief Justice said the five had accessed the sites; however, the prosecution could not prove that there was any criminal intent. The ruling hit out at the use of the 2000 Terrorism Act for a purpose for which it was not intended. It was not made clear to a jury in the original trial that the material had been downloaded to incite the commission of terrorist acts. There was no evidence to support such a case.

Irfan Raja, 20, of Ilford, east London, and Awaab Iqbal, 20, Aitzaz Zafar, 21, Usman Malik, 22, and Akbar Butt, 21, of Bradford, all received sentences of between two and three years in a landmark trial last year. Malik said that he did not support terrorism in any form against innocent people.

Lawyers pointed out that the Terrorism Act 2000 is not intended to make reading propaganda a crime, but to stop terrorists from planning attacks.
Last modified on 15 February 2008
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