Irish Republican News · October 26, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Campbell ‘has strong grounds’ to appeal conviction

An appeal is to be launched after Louth man Michael Campbell was sentenced to 12 years in a Lithuanian prison following an MI5 sting operation.

Campbell was snared in an elaborate operation involving undercover agents from Britain’s military intelligence, as well as the Irish and Lithuanian security services.

Judge Arunas Kisielius found Campbell guilty of IRA membership and attempting to import arms illegally.

Campbell has already spent almost four years on remand. If his appeal fails, he could be transferred to Ireland to see out his term.

His lawyer Ingrida Botyriene said, adding: “It was no great surprise to Michael, he was expecting this verdict, but we have strong grounds for appeal.”

The case hinged on an MI5 agent known by the pseudonym Robert Jardine, who was a cigarette smuggler before being recruited by British intelligence.

Campbell said it was Mr Jardine who suggested they buy contraband cigarettes in Lithuania, and then raised the idea of doing a bigger deal for arms.

In surveillance footage Campbell appears to tell an undercover agent a sniper rifle could be used “to shoot across borders - the border, from one side to the other”.

Lithuania is now seeking the extradition of Mr Campbell’s brother Liam and fellow Louth man Brendan McGuigan, who it says are involved in the case.

Ms Botyriene said “many questions remain unanswered” about the legality of how evidence was gathered in Ireland, Spain and Lithuania, and that MI5 had lured her client to the eastern European state because it was relatively easy to secure a conviction there.

She compared Campbell’s case to that of Desmond Kearns, whom Belfast Crown Court last year cleared of alleged arms smuggling when it found he had been entrapped by an MI5 agent.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News