Batley Woman who Retweeted IS Leader Speech Avoids Jail

A woman convicted of a terrorism offence after she retweeted a speech by the Islamic State (IS) leader has walked free from court.

Mary Kaya, 57, from Batley, West Yorkshire, had around 30 followers on her Twitter account when she retweeted the link to an audio clip by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Kaya denied posting the link and claimed her Twitter account was used by someone else.

But earlier this month a jury at Leeds Crown Court found her guilty of distributing a terrorist publication likely to encourage people to participate in terrorism.

The court had heard that Kaya's Twitter account was monitored after her husband was arrested during a raid by counter-terrorism police at a previous address in Dewsbury.

The account, named Justice and with the handle @GardenofGold, showed that the link to al-Baghdadi's speech, Even If The Disbelievers Despise Such, was retweeted on November 13 2014.

Handing her a suspended jail sentence on Thursday, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, labelled the speech "a dreadful diatribe'' but said that apart from the content of her Twitter account there was no evidence that Kaya held radical views or had tried to radicalise others.

She had attended the Prevent counter-terrorism programme since April last year which she is said to have "thoroughly enjoyed'' and there was a reasonable prospect of rehabilitation - if it had not already been achieved, said Judge Collier.

The judge concluded the level of culpability and harm was "low'' and that she could not be classed as a dangerous offender.

He said: "There is no evidence put before me, apart from the content of your Twitter account, that indicates on your part any espousal or propagating of radical Islamist views.

"As for your family, friends and close community, the clear evidence is that there was no attempt to radicalise them. Not one of them suspected you of holding radical views.

"It does not seem to me that you present any danger to the public at all.''

He added that "it is apparent that over recent months you have co-operated with and have thoroughly enjoyed involvement with the Prevent programme''.

The judge said that each case stood on its own facts and that people who acted like Kaya would still be at risk of going to jail.

Kaya received a 21-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years.

She will also be subject to a two-year supervision order and must observe a 7pm to 7am curfew for four months.

Richard Thomas, defending, pointed out the speech was widely disseminated by mainstream media outlets on the day of the offence.

He said the social media output of Kaya - a woman of previous good character - was "mixed'' as interests were also displayed in compassionate causes, humanitarian charities and peace.

He said: "Whatever the position may have been in 2014 there has been a significant engagement with all the relevant authorities since then.

"There has been extensive, deep analysis within her family environment.

"There is no suggestion she holds radical views or has been encouraging others to hold radical views. In fact quite the opposite.''

The speech stated there was an obligation upon Muslims to engage in violent jihad and that anyone not behaving in that way would face divine retribution.

A computer seized from Kaya's home was used to search for and view information about radical Islamic preachers, supporters of IS, people who had travelled to Syria, and footage of explosions and vicious attacks.

Kaya was arrested and interviewed on October 21 2015.

She told police she used Twitter "to see what was going on in the world'' and added: "No-one else uses my account so if there's anything on there, I'm the only one guilty.''

She later claimed she never posted anything on the account and believed it must have been hacked or that someone else must have had access.

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