Refugee cleared of terror charges

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The Independent Online

A refugee was today cleared of using his UK home as a base to orchestrate overseas terrorist attacks.

Faiz Baluch, 27, was accused of being a key supporter of the banned Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA).

But a Woolwich Crown Court jury cleared him of five charges linked to terrorist offences.

He was cleared of possessing terrorist materials, two counts of collecting terrorist information, preparing terrorism and inciting acts of terrorism overseas, including murder.

Baluch's close friend Hyrbyair Marri, 40, who faced the same five charges, was also accused of links to the BLA.

He was cleared of possessing terrorist articles, one count of collecting terrorist information and preparing terrorism.

But the jury failed to return verdicts on the two further counts of inciting acts of terrorism overseas, including murder, and a second charge of collecting terrorist information.

Prosecutors said the men used websites and telephone links to call on others to murder in the name of the separatist group.

They also gathered military information and a "hit list" of potential targets, including officials and judges who opposed their cause.

In their defence, the men said the prosecution was politically motivated and the men were simply calling on people in their homeland to protect themselves.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said the defendants were victims of an alliance between Britain and the Pakistani government under General Pervez Musharraf.

She said the men were arrested as part of the "war on terror" following the 9/11 attacks and that Mr Musharraf distorted the role of the BLA.

Baluch, of Mount Pleasant, Wembley, north-west London, claimed asylum after arriving in the UK in September 2002 without a passport, the court heard.

Since his application was turned down he has exhausted his right to appeal and must report monthly to immigration officials.

Married father-of-four Marri, of Heronsforde, Ealing, west London, holds a Pakistani passport and was granted leave to remain in the UK in March 2003. This was later extended.

Baluchistan, the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan, has seen an insurgency by BLA fighters calling for a separate state.

The group, proscribed by the UK Government in July 2006, has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in Pakistan.