5 UK Students Freed on Terror Appeal

Judge overturns convictions for having extremist literature
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2008 5:50 PM CST
Britain's new Lord Chancellor and Justice Minister Jack Straw, left, and Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers are seen before the swearing in ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The UK's top judge today quashed the convictions of five young Muslims on charges of downloading and sharing terrorist material, the Telegraph reports. Lord Chief Justice Phillips ruled that, under 2000's Terrorism Act, it is not illegal to possess and study terror literature unless there is obvious evidence of "terrorist intent."

The ruling is seen as a blow to the British government's terror prosecution and will likely lead to other convictions being overturned. The five students were arrested when one ran away from home after becoming "intoxicated" by extremist websites, the Telegraph reports. But Phillips maintained there must be "a direct connection between the object possessed and the act of terrorism.''