5 July 2007
The Crown Prosecution Service has advised the Metropolitan Police Service that Boris Berezovsky should not be charged with any criminal offences following a recent press article which claimed he was plotting 'a new Russian revolution'.
Susan Hemming, head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division said: "We looked at all the evidence we received from the police. This included the full transcript of an internet broadcast of an interview with Mr Berezovsky, from which press reports were taken. We did not find sufficient evidence in that full interview to justify a charge of inciting the use or threat of serious violence, as defined under terrorism law.
"Obviously we had to consider the content of the interview in its entirety, to see if any offences had been committed. In addition, we had to consider any likely defences to any charges. In the case of Mr Berezovsky, we decided it would not be possible for us to disprove a likely defence that he qualified his remarks during the interview to show that he was expressing support for non-violent action.
"Crucially, in the interview Mr Berezovsky repeatedly invoked the recent Orange Revolution in the Ukraine as an example. We concluded that he appeared to indicate civil disobedience as the model he was advocating. This would fall far short of advocating terrorist violence".
As well as inciting terrorism overseas, other offences were considered. But in light of the complete interview, which placed Mr Berezovsky's remarks in their full context, Miss Hemming said it was decided there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution for any other offence.
She said: "Inciting terrorism overseas is a very serious crime and can carry life imprisonment. If we had believed we could overcome a defence likely to be put forward by Mr Berezovsky, our decision might have been very different.
"We have successfully charged and prosecuted people for inciting terrorism overseas in the past - and we will continue to do so in the future, whenever the evidence is there."
Notes to Editors
1. A newspaper article in the Guardian was published on 13 April 2007 under the headline: "I am plotting a new Russian revolution."
2. The article included a link to the paper's website with a 42 minute audio broadcast of the original interview with Mr Berezovsky. The police report included the original article and a transcription of the Guardian interview by the police, and other material.
3. An offence of inciting terrorism overseas under Sec 59 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was considered; it can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Other offences considered were:
* Section 17 Terrorism Act 2000, Entering into a funding arrangement (maximum sentence 14 years);
* Section 56 Terrorism Act 2000, Directing a terrorist organisation (maximum sentence life);
* Section 1 Terrorism Act 2006, Encouragement of terrorism (maximum sentence seven years).
The conclusion was there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any of these offences.
4. For further information contact CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.