Court quashes student's terrorism conviction
LONDON (Reuters) - A British student, described by prosecutors as a "wannabe suicide bomber," had his main conviction for possessing terrorism-related materials quashed on Tuesday after spending nearly four years in custody.
Mohammed Atif Siddique, 24, from central Scotland, had been jailed for eight years in 2007 for four offences under terrorism and breach of the peace laws, including distributing terrorist material via websites.
On Tuesday, appeal court judges in Edinburgh formally overturned the most serious conviction against him, which accounted for six years of his term, the Press Association reported.
The judges were confirming a ruling last month that he had suffered a miscarriage of justice after the trial judge misdirected the jury.
At an appeal last year, Siddique's lawyers had argued that much of the material in his possession, which helped secure his conviction, was widely available on the internet.
They also argued that the judge in the original trial had failed to direct the jury that a connection must be established between materials Siddique was found with and a specific act of terrorism.
Prosecutors at Scotland's Crown Office said they would not seek a retrial as it would have little practical effect.
They said Siddique had already served most of his sentence for the quashed offence, and had effectively served the full sentence for the three lesser charges, of which he remained convicted.
After the hearing, Siddique emerged from the court in Edinburgh with his lawyer, who read a statement on his behalf.
"Our laws should bring to account those who plan acts of terror, and not criminalise young Muslims for thought crime and the possession of propaganda," Siddique said in the statement.
"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."
(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison)
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