A British graduate charged alongside two British soldiers for allegedly belonging to a banned neo-Nazi group has said he is a “prisoner of conscience”.
Alex Deakin, 22, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday alongside serving Army soldiers Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 32, and Private Mark Barrett, 24.The group has been charged under terror laws for being part of proscribed far-right group National Action.
When asked to enter a plea, Deakin said: “I’m a prisoner of conscience, I believe I’m innocent of these charges.”
Deakin is further accused of distributing a terrorist publication and two counts of possessing documents that would likely be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
Deakin and Vehvilainen did not enter pleas, while Barrett pleaded not guilty.
Vehvilainen, from Sennybridge Camp in Powys, is also accused of possession of pepper spray and possession of a document likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
The document is alleged to be 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, written by Anders Breivik, the far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in two terror attacks in Norway in 2011.
Vehvilainen is also accused of two counts of posting material online that was threatening, abusive or insulting, therefore potentially stirring up racial hatred.
The defendants will next appear at the Old Bailey on 21 September for a preliminary hearing.
Vehvilainen and Deakin did not apply for bail and were sent back in custody, while Barrett- who was arrested last week in Cyprus, where he was based with the Army- was denied bail by senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot.
National Action became the first group of its kind to be proscribed in the UK since World War II after an assessment found it was “concerned with terrorism”.
Outlawing the party entails that everyone who becomes a member of it can be charged with terror offences and given a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd took the decision to ban the group back in 2016, saying it is “racist”.