Britain's top court has dismissed an appeal by three members of the PKK terror group that carried PKK flags during a rally, violating a UK act that bans the display of terror symbols.

The court cited an article of the Terrorism Act 2000 on items and clothing arousing reasonable suspicion that one is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.
The court cited an article of the Terrorism Act 2000 on items and clothing arousing reasonable suspicion that one is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation. (AP Archive)

Britain's Supreme Court has confirmed that carrying symbols linked to the PKK terrorist organisation during protests is a punishable crime, rejecting an appeal by three members with various jail terms.

The court said in a summary on Wednesday that the appellants "took part in a demonstration" protesting Turkiye's actions against the PKK and its Syrian offshoot in a 2018 cross-border operation.

The court said "each carried a flag of the ... PKK, an organisation which is proscribed under the 2000 Act."

The terror offence by the appellants were carried out during a demonstration in central London on January 27, 2018.

The appellants, namely, Rahman Pwr, Ismail Akdogan, and Rotinda Demir, were convicted with the offences under the 2000 Terrorism Act by the Westminster Magistrates' Court. 

Pwr and Akdogan were given three-month conditional discharges and Demir received an absolute discharge.

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Terrorism Act 2000

The PKK members appealed at the country's Crown Court previously on the grounds that they did not know what they carried.

However, the Crown Court dismissed their appeals as their actions "created an offence of strict liability meaning that the offence did not require a person to have any knowledge of the import of the article." 

The court also cited an article of the Terrorism Act 2000 on items and clothing arousing reasonable suspicion that one is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

It held that section 13(1) "was not incompatible with the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights."

The Supreme Court decision by Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lady Arden, Lord Hamblen, Lord Burrows, and Lady Rose came unanimously.

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Setting a precedent

The Supreme Court's judgement is expected to set a precedent to further arrests and convictions regarding such demonstrations under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Groups of protesters carrying PKK flags, banners, and posters — bearing the insignia of the illegal group or the likeness of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan — have been seen in recent years on the streets of UK cities.

The UK listed the PKK and various front groups as illegal organisations in March 2001. According to the Home Office, this means all their activities are banned, as is membership of or inviting support for such groups.

The PKK is also listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkiye, the United States and the European Union.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

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Source: AA