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Spanish man faces terror charges in Finland

A young Spaniard living in Finland is accused of training to commit a terrorist crime and planning to fight in Syria or West Africa. He denies the charge.

Syytetty istuu täysin tunnistamattomaksi pukeutuneena, huppu pään yli vedettynä Helsin Käräjäoikeuden salissa.
The suspect at Helsinki District Court on Thursday morning with his lawyer, Joonia Streng, on the left. Image: Markku Pitkänen / Yle
Yle News

A 21-year-old Spanish man who lives in Finland is accused of training to commit a terrorist offence. Proceedings began at Helsinki District Court on Thursday.

According to the prosecutor, the man acquired material from Islamist terrorist organisations online, including instructions regarding the lethal use of firearms and bladed weapons and the independent manufacture of explosives.

The man had also practiced shooting with an assault rifle-type airsoft gun and carrying the weapon in his car, the prosecutor said.

According to the prosecutor, the man had decided to commit or prepare one or more terrorist crimes.

The prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence of at least one and a half years in the case.

"During his training (the accused) has sought connections and been in contact with parties that support Islamist terrorist organisations and distribute material supporting their activities, and planned to participate as a jihadist terrorist fighter in Syria or West Africa," the prosecutor said in court documents.

The man denies the charge. In his written response to the court, he admitted that he had acquired quite a lot of material that could be seen as related to Islamist extremism. However, he denied having looked at most of it.

He said he in contact with parties supporting extremist Islamist ideas because the topic interested him.

"My client denies that he intended to participate as a jihad terrorist fighter in Syria or West Africa. He has undeniably been interested in extreme Islamist thinking and has collected material and communicated on the subject. Possession of questionable material and statements supporting Islamists does not meet the hallmarks of the crime," his lawyer, Joonia Streng, declared in a statement.

The man has been in custody since mid-December. Suspicions about his plans to commit a terrorist offence came to the attention of Helsinki police during a probe into another suspected crime. They said at the time that he was believed to have acted alone.

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