Three men, including two British Army soldiers,charged under the UK's terror laws for being members of a neo-Nazi group appeared before a UK court today. Lance Corporal Mikko Vevhilainen, originally from Finland and a member of the British Army, 24-year-old Private Mark Barrett, and 22-year-old civilian Alex Deakin appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court in London accused of being members of the banned far-right group National Action. Deakintold the court that he was a "prisoner of conscience" and that he is "innocent of the charges". All three were remanded in custody to appear before the Old Bailey court in London on September 21. "The charges follow a number of arrests by officers from West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit last week.
The arrests were pre-planned and intelligence-led and there was no risk to the public's safety," West Midlands Police said in a statement. Deakin has been charged with two counts under Section 58 of the UK's Terrorism Act 2000 - alleged possession of documents likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism. He is also charged with one count of distributing a terrorist publication. Separately, he faces one count of inciting racial hatred - allegedly posting a number of National Action stickers at the Aston University campus in Birmingham in July 2016. Vehvilainen, from Sennybridge Camp, Brecon, Powys,has also been charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 for the possession of a document likely to be useful to a person preparing to commit an act of terrorism. The 32-year-old also faces two counts of publishing threatening, abusive or insulting comments online intending to stir up racial hatred under the Public Order Act 1986. He has also been charged with possession of a weapon - pepper spray. Barrett is charged with one count of being a member of a proscribed organisation, namely National Action, contrary to Section 11 of the UK's Terrorism Act 2000. They were among five men, four soldiers and a civilian, arrested on September 5 over a plot linked to the banned National Action group. Two 24-year-olds among them had been released without charge and police had been given more time to question the remaining three suspects, who have now been formally charged. National Action was the first extreme far-right group to be banned by UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd last year. An entry for National Action in the UK's official list of proscribed organisation says it is a "racistneo-Nazigroup" that was established in 2013 and has branches across the UK which "conduct provocative street demonstrations and stunts aimed at intimidating local communities". Being a member of, or inviting support for, a proscribed organisation is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison under UK law.
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