Éirígí press officer cleared of all charges

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Éirígí press officer cleared of all charges thumbnailSTEPHEN Murney spent 14 months in prison before being acquitted yesterday. BH0901.

STEPHEN Murney, a member of the socialist republican party Éirígí, was yesterday (Monday) acquitted of a series of terrorism charges.
Belfast Crown Court heard that photographs of police on duty were found on a computer together with two videos on an iPhone following a police search of Mr Murney's home in November 2012.
The prosecution claimed that the photos, taken between August 2011 and July 2012 - including one of him being searched on two separate occasions by police - were placed on his Facebook account which would enable any other account holder to view the photographs he had published.
However, defence lawyer Barry Macdonald, QC, SC, argued that the collecting and publishing of police officers photos, prima facia, does not amount to collecting information for terrorists, as the information itself, has to be inherently sinister, rather than just sinister because of the circumstances in which it is possessed.
Until his arrest and imprisonment in 2012, Mr Murney had held the position of PRO for Éirígí in the Newry and Mourne area.
Speaking after his acquittal and release, Mr Murney said: "My imprisonment for the past 14 months was as a direct result of my political views and my membership of Éirígí - an open and legitimate political party.
“Those charges, of which I have been found to be innocent, were brought against me by the PSNI who objected to fact that I recorded, documented and publicised PSNI personnel abusing the human and civil rights of citizens in the Newry area.
“Even though it was clear from the very outset that these charges were completely without substance, both the PSNI and prosecution service have persisted with a legalised charade which resulted in my imprisonment from December 2012. There is no other way of describing that charade except as 'internment by remand'.
“I intend to continue with my activism on behalf of Éirígí."
Éirígí general secretary, Breandán MacCionnaith, who attended the trial, added: "From the outset, we have said that the charges against our party comrade were nothing more than a spurious means to remove a committed and dedicated political activist from his family and his community.
“Stephen's case also highlights, yet again, the false claims made by constitutional nationalist parties in the six counties. This case clearly epitomises the reality of modern political policing.
“Had the PSNI and prosecution service been successful in their action against Stephen, it is very evident that this case would have had profound implications in relation to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
“Article 10 states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. That right includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by state authorities.
“Stephen's arrest and imprisonment was a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship and the open suppression of legitimately-held political opinions in direct contravention of those Article 10 rights.
“In that regard, this case is strongly reminiscent of the type of charges brought by RUC against political activists and others under the old and internationally discredited Special Powers Act.
“Had the PSNI and prosecution service succeeded in this case, I have no doubt that it would have led to the arrests of other political activists and to possible gagging orders on political publications as a first step towards an outright ban on éirígí as a political party."

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