ON THE FIRST DAY of the trial, Josh Walker wore a long navy jacket, a white shirt, beige pants, and black shoes. He stood outside the courthouse clutching a cigarette and shivering slightly in the cold morning air. “I’m beginning to feel nervous now,” he said, glancing toward the entrance of the court building.
Last summer, Walker traveled from London to Syria, where he joined the Kurdish-led YPG militia in its fight against the so-called Islamic State. After serving with the group for some six months, Walker returned to England, where he was charged under an anti-terrorism law.
Police had arrested Walker when he arrived at the airport. They later searched his apartment, turning up a copy of the infamous “Anarchist Cookbook,” which contains bomb-making instructions along with information about how to eavesdrop on phone calls and commit credit card fraud. Walker was accused of violating the Terrorism Act because he possessed information “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.” He faced the possibility of a 10-year jail sentence.
This week, Walker went on trial. After hearing four days of evidence, a 12-person jury at Birmingham Crown Court in England’s West Midlands found him not guilty. But questions remain about why the highly unusual case — which took months to prepare and cost large sums of taxpayer money — proceeded at all.
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