Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 14:57 UK

Terror student appeal case begins

Mohammed Atif Siddique
Siddique was convicted of terror offences in October 2007

The first man in Scotland to be convicted of being an Islamist terrorist has begun an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Lawyers acting for Mohammed Atif Siddique at the High Court in Edinburgh said terror-related material found on his laptop was "mere propaganda".

The British-born Muslim student was jailed for eight years for a string of terrorism offences in October 2007.

The offences included possessing bomb-making instructions.

Defence QC Donald Findlay said the supposedly damning material produced at the trial did not mean Siddique was about to commit a terrorist act.

He told the court the information found on the student's laptop was: "A hotch-potch, a melange of a whole variety of matters which is, in my submission, of no practical purpose whatsoever to any terrorist."

Propaganda, even for causes which most people would find distasteful, was not an offence under the Terrorism Acts, said Mr Findlay.

Siddique's solicitor Aamer Anwar made a brief statement before the hearing

But the lawyer also admitted that Siddique "had an intention, an aspiration to be a suicide bomber. I am not running away from that."

However, he claimed, the Terrorism Act demanded the commission, preparation or instigation of a definite, particular act before a conviction was possible.

The court heard that some of the material was more sinister - including a "training manual" from al-Qaeda's military experts which included tips on fitness, shooting, hiding explosives, tactics and advice on resisting interrogation.

Mr Findlay maintained that it was all readily available, no passwords were needed to access the web-sites involved and there was no need to "knock three times to see who is there." Much of it came from an anti-terrorist web-site.

"It is nothing new, it is nothing novel," said the lawyer.

"The irony, or course, is that while it is the manual of al-Qaeda's military committee, it is being made available to all and sundry by a former Israeli secret service agent."

Fair trial

Siddique was entitled to take an interest in such affairs, said Mr Findlay, but that didn't make him a terrorist.

Before the hearing, in front of Lord Osborne, Lord Reed and Lord Clarke, Siddique's solicitor Aamer Anwar said his client maintained his innocence.

He added: "It has been three long and hard years for him and his family. However he is still full of hope and believes in justice."

The shopkeeper's son, from Alva in Clackmannanshire was convicted of two charges under the Terrorism Act 2000, one under the Terrorism Act 2006 and a breach of the peace.

He was stopped by anti-terror police at Glasgow Airport en route to Pakistan.

He was charged days later after his laptop was seized and his home searched by police.

The jury delivered guilty verdicts at the High Court in Glasgow after a trial lasting 19 days.

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