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Palestinian Scottish Doctor in Court Fight for the Right to Practise Medicine

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)

Wednesday 8 June 2022, for immediate release

Dr Issam Bassalat, a Palestinian Scottish doctor who is facing terrorism charges in Northern Ireland as a result of what his lawyer calls "entrapment", will be appearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday 10 June to fight for his right to practise medicine. The hearing starts at 10am and is scheduled to last all day.

Dr Bassalat was arrested on 22 August 2020. He was one of 10 people arrested at various locations over a period of several days as part of Operation Arbacia, which the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said was "an investigation into the activities of the New IRA" and involved "partners such as MI5, Police Scotland, An Garda Siochana and the Metropolitan Police Service." The case against him hinges on evidence obtained as a result of the activities of Dennis McFadden, who has been named in court as an MI5 agent.

Dr Bassalat suffered a heart attack while held in Northern Ireland's Maghaberry Prison and was eventually released on bail in December 2021. He is currently living at his home in Edinburgh.

Dr Bassalat's licence to practise medicine was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) on 26 October 2020, though the charges against him (which he denies) have no relation to his fitness to practise medicine. The suspension was for a period of 18 months, the maximum that can be imposed administratively by the GMC. The GMC has applied to the Court of Session for the suspension to be extended. Dr Bassalat opposes the GMC's application and will be representing himself in court.

Dr Bassalat says that the GMC has not followed its own guidance in its handling of his case.

SACC understands that the proceedings on Friday will involve evidence relating to what we believe to be politically-motivated targeting of Dr Bassalat.

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  1. In-person attendance at the Court of Session by the public and media is not allowed, but the hearing will be available to watch online. To obtain the link, either contact SACC or email Scottish Courts at (quote case ref P277/22). If attending the hearing online, please keep your microphone muted and your camera off and do not record, store or broadcast any part of the proceedings or post screenshots on social media. Further information about virtual hearings can be found at
  2. The case is currently (Wednesday 8 June) listed in the online court rolls as a 30-minute procedural hearing. This appears to be an administrative error.
  3. Dr Bassalat is represented in connection with the criminal proceedings in Northern Ireland by Gavin Booth at Phoenix Law, Belfast. Tel:  028 90 32 83 83
  4. SACC has been providing support to Dr Bassalat since his arrest. We remain gravely concerned about the involvement of MI5 in his case, about the likelihood that pro-Palestine activities in Scotland have been subject to surveillance as a result of this, about the treatment Dr Bassalat received while on remand in Maghaberry Prison, and about the fact that his case will eventually be tried by a judge sitting without a jury in a Diplock court.