This case takes place in the shadow of a war in Iraq which was carried out without the sanction of the United Nations. It happened in revenge for an unconnected act of violence which was in itself blowback for various intelligence operations which failed. Osama Bin Laden was a CIA asset trained to fight the soviets in Afghanistan who eventually realised that the US was as large an enemy to his and his fellow rebels interests as the Soviets.
His network believes it is fighting an all out war against the military occupation of the Middle East, a modern crusade by Christianity against Islam. The war is real, the consequences are real and the threat to our civil liberties in this country is very real as well. Already the right to a fair trial (Habeus Corpus) has been undermined with a pre trial dentention period of one month during which time anyone can be held on suspicion. Not content with the longest period of detention in the western world Labour wants to extend this to 42 days.
ID cards are being pushed through the UK parliament on the back of terrorist threats yet the Goverment has admitted in correspondence that they would have no significant effect on terrorism whatsoever!
On the front line of often badly drawn and regressive legislation which can give suspects an effective life sentence for publishing seditious material on the internet are the human rights lawyers. One in particular, Aamer Anwar is treading the balance between what is right to protect society and the human rights of his client. Sadly the state has decided that it not only doesn't like the actions of his clients, it doesn't like what he says in defence of them.
This is extremely worrying. To ensure our justice system works effectively all lawyers must have complete liberty to attack any decision which they believe adversely affects their client or is injurious to civil rights in general. this should particularly apply in the case of lawyers fighting high profile human rights cases based on new legislation.
In Scotland we like to believe we have a decent respect for human rights. Sadly that respect is not shared by the British Government which has been extremely cavalier about European human rights legislation and has in consequence experienced a whole series of judicial reverses because of badly framed legislation and attempted abuse of executive powers.
If this case is successful then in the future lawyers might rightly fear the consequences of pursuing difficult cases and fully expressing their opinions if they are going to be threatened with a subsequent appearance in the dock themselves once their trials are over. If even a popular, widely celebrated and respected Scottish lawyer like Aamer Anwar can be convicted on these charges in a Scottish court then in future the truth will only be what the British state says it is.
That's not good enough in these dangerous and volatile times.