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National Action Soldier tells trial he knew little about banned nazi sect

A SOLDIER accused of membership of a proscribed neonazi terrorist group claimed yesterday that a more senior colleague handed him propaganda leaflets at an army base.

Private Mark Barrett said that Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen gave him two National Action flyers and had made racist “jokes.”

The serviceman also alleged that he was asked to draw pictures of a swastika and a World War II German tank, which were found in his accommodation.

After he was arrested on suspicion of a terrorism offence at Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, he told authorities that he found Cpl Vehvilainen “intimidating” and that he “scared the crap” out of him.

Pte Barrett, Cpl Vehvilainen and a 23-year-old man who cannot be named in the press are on trial at Birmingham Crown Court accused of National Action membership.

Pte Barrett claimed that he put the leaflets he had been given in his wallet and did not look at them again until they were found after his arrest.

He said the extent of his knowledge of National Action was “they’re a bunch of racist guys.”

National Action were banned in December 2016 after a series of events including posting on Twitter in support of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Asked about drawings in his sketchbook, Pte Barrett said: “Yeah I’ve got a book, a drawings book, but basically there’s pictures that Vehvilainen asked me to do.

“I like to draw and always have done, so I drew a couple of pictures for him and that was it.”

He added: “I don’t think the pictures themselves were specifically racist. I just think it had, excuse me, the swastika on them.”

Cpl Vehvilainen is charged with possession of a terrorist document — a manifesto written by Norwegian nazi Anders Breivik — and two counts of stirring up racial hatred relating to two online forum posts.

The trial continues on Monday.

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