Terrorist loses case for early release

The High Court has ruled against convicted terrorist Mohammed Zahir Khan who demanded to be released early from prison.

Until this year, anyone convicted of a terrorism offence who was not on a life sentence could expect to be automatically released at the halfway point of their jail time. They would then serve the rest of the sentence under conditions and monitoring in the community - including restrictions on where they could go and who they could meet.

However, Parliament passed emergency legislation in late February that ended the automatic release of terrorists halfway through standard time-limited sentences. Instead, terrorists must serve at least two-thirds of their sentence in jail before being considered for parole.

The legislation was passed following tow terrorism acts committed by two jihadists who had been released early from prison. In November 2019, Usman Khan killed two and injured others in a stabbing attack on London Bridge after he had been released halfway through his 16-year sentence, before Suddesh Amman stabbed people in Streatham, London, days after being released from prison in February.

Mohammed Zahir Khan was jailed in 2018 for encouraging terrorism, provoking racial tensions with Shia Muslims, and disseminating terrorist material. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison, and the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act was passed days before his expected automatic release date on March 1st, delaying his parole assessment until November.

Khan took his case to High Court, arguing that treating terrorist prisoners differently from other criminals was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, whilst also alleging that the change in Parliamentary law would punish people with ‘particular Islamic beliefs’, especially Muslims.

However, High Court judges said the changes had been a ‘logical and rational’ response to the threat, and had therefore not breached Khan’s human rights.


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