An activist group has slammed the sentence given to a 21-year-old white supremacist who avoided jail for terrorism offences and instead was told to read classic English literature.
Ben John, 21, of Addison Drive in Lincoln, was given a two year prison sentence, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of one count of having in his possession a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
The jury at Leicestershire Crown Court voted unanimously to find him guilty on August 12, after 67,000 documents containing a wealth of white supremacist and anti-Semitic content were found on John’s hard drive.
On Wednesday evening, national advocacy group Hope not Hate issued an open letter to the Attorney General’s office asking for a review of Ben John’s sentencing, calling it “obscenely lenient”.
CEO of the group Nick Lowles said: “A suspended sentence and a suggested reading list of English classics for a terror conviction would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.
“This judge is sending a message that violent right wing extremists may be treated leniently by the courts. That is a dangerous message to send when the far right poses the fastest growing terror threat today. This sentence should be reviewed by the Attorney General’s office.”
John had become a part of the Extreme Right Wing online, and downloaded the Anarchist Cookbook 2000, a radical publication with tutorials on how to create explosive devices.
The judge said that his sentencing was John’s “last chance” before going to prison, and he was ordered to read classic English literature from Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens rather than being jailed.
We have sent a letter to the Attorney General's office asking for a review of the obscenely lenient sentencing of Ben John and the message it sends to other far right extremists.
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) September 1, 2021
The Attorney General’s Law Officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case before making a decision, meaning a deadline of Tuesday, September 28 has been set for response to the letter.