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NewsMan accused of possessing Isis material 'learning about religion', jury hears

Man accused of possessing Isis material ‘learning about religion’, jury hears

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A man accused of possessing Isis propaganda material took the stand to defend his actions in front of a jury on Monday.

He said he was only learning about his religion, and he was put in jail because he is a Muslim and his religion is not liked.

The Auckland man, who has name suppression, has denied three charges of possessing objectionable publications, possessing a knife without lawful authority and failing to comply with a search.

The three publications had been classified as objectionable by the censor for promoting acts of terrorism, extreme violence and cruelty, the High Court at Auckland heard.

The Crown’s case is that the man repeatedly accessed Isis propaganda material in July and August 2018 before buying a hunting knife.

However, the defence argues he did not know the material was objectionable and he was legally within his rights to own a hunting knife.

“I am not supporting anyone … I have never heard it being objectionable material … people lie, lie, lie,” the accused told the jury.

“Before the Christchurch attacks, police picked on Muslims.”

Defence lawyer Kieran Raftery QC asked the defendant a series of questions in court on Monday.

The accused argued his internet searches of the videos in question were not evidence he supported Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), because he did not know who made the videos.

The content of some of the videos was described to the court during the series of questions. They included a soldier killing a civilian, a soldier killing a 13-year-old child, and civilians being bound and burnt.

“I did not understand this is objectionable material. The war crimes and the videos we have gone through [in evidence] we saw on the TV and there was nothing objectionable about this,” the defendant said.

In relation to the charge about owning a knife, he told the court he had always owned a knife for protection.

A hunting knife was seized by the police following the accused’s first arrest in May 2017, the court heard.

He said he informed the police of the knife because he did not want it to be a surprise to officers searching his home.

Following his release on bail, he purchased another knife to replace the one the police had seized.

It was not illegal to buy a knife while on bail and it was not illegal to own a knife in your own home, he told the jury.

He got the knife delivered to his home address instead of leaving the store with it because he did not want the police to put a “fake charge” on him.

“P… are racist”, he told the court. “I am allowed to have a knife.”

A seven-minute video, which is the cause of the third objectionable publication charge, showing people being murdered by Isis was shown to the jury in court last week.

The video also provided instruction on how to kill non-Muslims.

The Crown’s case is that these particular nasheeds and video were “clearly designed” to inspire and celebrate the cause of Isis.

Under cross-examination, the man became argumentative with Crown prosecutor Henry Steele when asked about his watching of these videos.

The man also became argumentative with Justice Sally Fitzgerald.

The accused said he could not remember if he had watched the videos or not, despite them being bookmarked on his computer.

“It is a video with severed heads, do you remember if you watched that video or not?” Steele asked.

“I told you … I have seen worse than that,” the man said.

Steele also addressed the man’s Google searches and bookmarks which included: Islamic State dress, New Zealand prison clothes and food, improvised explosive devices, heroes of Isis, and an Isis-issued booklet on how to avoid being detected by Western security.

He said his Google searches were representative of him checking on something he had read on the news.

He also said his search which included the keywords: “Captive by the enemies of Allah”, was only used to check his spelling.

“You put me in jail because I am a Muslim and you don’t like my religion. That makes you an enemy. Allah says you will be punished,” he said.

Justice Fitzgerald will begin her summing-up of the evidence on Tuesday before the jury is sent out to deliberate.

Stuff

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