Northern Ireland

Doctor charged in connection with alleged dissident republican meetings denied bail again

Dr Issam Hijjawi, who has been arrested as part of an MI5 sting.
Dr Issam Hijjawi, who has been arrested as part of an MI5 sting. Dr Issam Hijjawi, who has been arrested as part of an MI5 sting.

A doctor who is among 10 people charged with dissident terrorist activity after joint PSNI/MI5 surveillance operation, has failed again to be released on bail.

During a previous application, it emerged an address offered for release was connected to an Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association worker and a taxi-firm which shares premises with political party Saoradh.

Dr Issam Bassalat (63) from Telford Road, Edinburgh is charged with attending and addressing an IRA meeting in July 2020.

Also charged are David and Sharon Jordan as well as Damien Joseph McLaughlin from Dungannon; Kevin Murphy from Coalisland, Amanda McCabe and Shea Reynolds from Lurgan; Joseph Barr, Patrick McDaid and Gary Hayden from Derry.

All are accused of belonging to the IRA, directing terrorism and preparing terrorist acts.

Described by his lawyer as: “An evangelist for Palestine” Dr Bassalat was mentioned in a covertly recorded meeting as: “Instrumental to contacts in Beirut.”

David Jordan allegedly introduced himself to Dr Bassalat as Chair of the IRA Army Council and: “Discussions weren’t just political but also of violence.”

At the latest application Dr Bassalat’s defence told Dungannon Magistrates Court his incarceration is impacting on family proceedings in Scotland.

The defence added Dr Bassalat’s detention delayed spinal surgery and while now carried out: “He was summarily discharged from hospital back to prison the same day, due to alleged security risks. He was denied access to recuperation in hospital and further denied post-operative care in prison where he had no pain relief. That is a sad and shameful reflection on a doctor.”

Having been suspended by the General Medical Council, Dr Bassalat’s: “Professional reputation has been gravely if not permanently damaged,” said the defence.

“The time has come to recognise enough is enough and to grant this doctor bail. He has every expectation of being fully acquitted.”

Dismissing the application, District Judge Michael Ranaghan ruled: “We are in the days of video-link consultations. It works and can be done. Thankfully Dr Bassalat has had his surgery. I think it inappropriate he was denied pain relief – if that’s the case. I make no finding in the absence of any documentation to confirm it.”