Student freed after miscarriage of justice

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The Independent Online

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."