"Anti-terrorism police hold man in soldier probe
Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:23 PM GMT
LONDON (Reuters) - A man has been charged under anti-terrorism legislation for allegedly being in possession of the name and address of a British soldier, police say.
Abu Baker Mansha, 21, from east London, was accused of having "a document, namely a piece of paper, containing the name and home address of a UK soldier -- information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".
A police spokeswoman said the charge related to just one British soldier but could not say who this individual was or what rank they held.
No other details were available, she said.
Mansha was arrested by anti-terrorist officers last Thursday"
According to the BBC, this was in Thamesmead, South East London i.e. presumably within sight of Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh
and was due to appear at London's Bow Street magistrates on Tuesday.
Britain has arrested more than 700 people under anti-terrorist laws since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Of these, 17 have been convicted of terrorist offences, about 120 have been charged under anti-terrorism legislation and 135 have been charged under other legislation."
Presumably this means that Terrorism Act 2000. section 58 Collection of Information, one of the most catch all "soviet" style bits of legislation on the statute books, which by providing a defence of "having a reasonable excuse" for possession of such information, reverses the burden of proof for the defendant i.e. he has to prove himself innocent, rather than the prosecution having to prove him guilty.
Which politician, in the run up to the forthcoming General Election, will promise to reform this frighteningly draconian legislation ?
Is Abu Baker Mansha a British citizen ? Will he be subjected to a Control Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 if this Terrorism Act charge fails to convict him ?
If this "information" was something like a secret VIP travel plan itinerary, or the detailed plans of part of the Critical National Infrastructure, then that would be one thing, but simply the "Name and Home Address" of a single soldier (rank irrelevant) is really grasping at straws and is disproportionate
If such Name and Address information really is of use to terrorists then it totally undermines the Nu Labour Government's dubious plans for a compulsory National Identity Register and ID card, which will have everyone's Name and Home Address, and previous Names and Addresses, both in the UK and Overseas.
All our Names and Addresses should be protected equally and there is no excuse for treating any soldier, whatever their rank or secret duties, or politician etc. any differently from any other UK Citizen under the law.
The David Blunkett is an Arse blog is also similarly puzzled and worried about this case.