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Over 20 hours of surveillance and thousands of pages of statements in case against Palestinian doctor arrested in dissident probe, court told


Issam Bassalat

Issam Bassalat

Issam Bassalat

More than 20 hours of surveillance recordings feature in the case against a Palestinian doctor charged as part of a major operation against the New IRA, the High Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutors also disclosed that 10,000 pages of statements and supporting documentation has been compiled in the investigation into Issam Bassalat.

The scale of the probe emerged as the 63-year-old accused was again refused bail.

Dr Bassalat, with an address at Telford Road in Edinburgh, faces a charge of attending an alleged meeting of the New IRA.

He is among 10 people facing prosecution following a joint PSNI and MI5 sting against the terrorist group's activities.

The operation involved bugging two suspected meetings at properties in Co Tyrone last year.

Dr Bassalat was subsequently detained at London's Heathrow Airport.

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He has spent 10 months in custody on a single count of engaging in preparatory acts of terrorism by allegedly attending and addressing an IRA meeting in Omagh on July 19.

Previous courts heard claims that the doctor was part of a plan by the group to source weapons.

But the accused insists he was misled and pestered into attending by an alleged MI5 agent.

Described by the defence as a man of "impeccable character" and a champion of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, Dr Bassalat's lawyers argued he thought he was attending a lawful political gathering.

A fresh application for bail centred on the father-of-four's ability to participate in a family proceedings case in Scotland next week.

His barrister also claimed the prosecution had so far only released "snippets" of transcripts from the surveillance operation.

However, senior Crown counsel confirmed full disclosure would be made within weeks.

The court was told the dossier includes 2,000 pages of statements, 8,000 pages of supporting documentation, 20 hours of audio recordings and 23 hours of CCTV recordings, both covert and non-covert.

Counsel was asked if the full seriousness of the allegations against Dr Bassalat would become more apparent.

"I don't see his position getting any better," he replied.

Denying bail once more, Mr Justice McAlinden cited the potential risk of flight.

"It's quite clear this man is a very active traveler, engaged in internal travel for the purpose of promoting a cause which is very close to his heart," he said.

The judge stressed that if the case against Dr Bassalat was ultimately proven, it would involve "the most serious nature of wrongdoing".

He added: "It is all the more serious because, if established, it is wrongdoing on the part of an individual who has taken an oath, primarily in his professional life, to do no harm to individuals but to in all ways and means assist and help individuals."

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