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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 18:02 GMT
US court upholds terror ban
LTTE fighters
The Tigers had their appeal rejected in the US
By Paul Reynolds in Washington

The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against a ban on support for organisations designated as terrorist by the US Government.

The case was brought by supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who said it violated rights to free speech.

The Supreme Court refused to consider the case, which in practice means that it rejected the appeal.

In doing so, it made no comment.

Prison sentences

The case had its origin in a plea by supporters of the Tamil Tigers and the PKK against the 1996 anti-terrorism act.

This allows the US secretary of state to designate as a "foreign terrorist organisation" any group considered to be a threat to the United States or its citizens.

Anyone giving material support like money or weapons to such a group is liable to get 10 years in prison.

A judge in Los Angeles upheld the law, or most of it.

He rejected arguments that it violated rights to free speech, and this ruling was supported by the Appeals Court.

The court said that there was no constitutional right to facilitate terrorism by giving terrorists "weapons and explosives with which to carry out their grisly missions".

Too vague

However, the Appeals Court also agreed with the lower court judge that two parts of the act, which seek to ban the provision of personnel and training, were too vague, and the Supreme Court has also accepted this opinion.

In their argument to the Supreme Court, the opponents of the act said that the law created guilt by association.

The Justice Department countered that people remained free to make expressions of solidarity with the causes.

The US law is similar to one just introduced in the UK under which the Tamil Tigers are also banned as a terrorist organisation.

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See also:

28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Tamil Tigers on banned list
28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
More 'terror' groups face ban
16 Feb 01 | South Asia
Tamils campaign against UK Tiger ban
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Europe's well-connected Kurds
21 Nov 00 | Europe
A people divided by borders
02 May 00 | South Asia
Tamil Tigers: A fearsome force
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