Not Saussure

August 29, 2006

BBC NEWS | UK | Man cleared in ‘terror film’ case

Filed under: civil liberties, Iran, UK, Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 10:35 pm

BBC NEWS | UK | Man cleared in ‘terror film’ case

A minicab driver has been cleared of making or possessing a video of potential terrorist targets in London.

His film, shot at night, featured “high profile” sights including Big Ben, the London Eye and Park Lane hotels.

Iraqi Rauf Mohammed, 26, told Woolwich Crown Court the video had been shot as a tourist souvenir.

Mr Mohammed, of Forest Gate, east London, also said footage of him saying leaders, including Tony Blair, should be “slayed” had been meant as a joke.

Mr Mohammed’s relief at his acquittal may be tempered, of course, by irritation that he’s spent the last nine months in Belmarsh following his arrest in November last year.

While it’s always dangerous to go by news reports of court proceedings — no matter how detailed, they can only give a tiny fraction of what’s actually said in court — the evidence against him does seem to have been pretty flimsy, given that the prosecution, as they would have to in any criminal case, needed to make the jury sure that Mr Mohammed’s video was, in fact, for the use of terrorists rather than just a record him and his chum fooling about. If saying that Tony Blair should be shot is suspicious behaviour, then God help us. I’d have taken it as evidence, if anything, that Mr Mohammed’s integrating pretty well with much public opinion.

What seems to have caused the authorities no little concern, however, is a somewhat vague report prepared by the Intelligence folks on Mr Mohammed’s visit to his native Iraq:

The jury was told Mr Mohammed had been kept under surveillance by MI5 after arriving back in the UK in 2004 from a visit to Iraq.

According to a subsequent Home Office assessment, he had taken part in “anti-coalition activity” in Iraq and continued to “actively support” the insurgency.

But Mr Mohammed, who had been in the UK since 2000, told the jury the authorities had not provided an explanation of how they linked him to the insurgency or detailed any alleged activities.

He said he had not been involved in politics or any groups in London.

The jury seem to have been unconvinced by this assessment of Mr Mohammed’s activities; possibly they thought it’s not the first dodgy dossier we’ve seen out of Iraq.

Despite his spending the best part of a year on remand, Mr Mohammed may take some comfort that his fate was ultimately decided by a jury of the sort of ordinary people who, we’re so often told by the tabloids and the politicians, are fed up with these civil libertarian notions of due process and the presumption of innocence. Had it been left to Dr Reid, and had it been in his power, Mr Mohammed would almost certainly have languished in Belmarsh indefinitely on suspicion.

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