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7 Men Charged With Terror Offenses In Scotland - 2002-12-24

Seven men have been charged with terrorism offenses during a brief court appearance in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The men of North African origin, who were arrested last week in Edinburgh and London, entered no pleas and made no declarations in the short, closed-door session at Edinburgh's Sheriff's Court.

The seven men have been ordered to remain in custody and they will make another court appearance in the same Scottish court, next Tuesday.

The charges against the men, who are in their 20s and 30s, were not made public but they come under Section 57 of the British Terrorism Act of 2000, which deals with the possession of articles which could be used in a terrorist attack. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison, plus fines.

The British arrests came one day after French authorities detained four men on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack there. Suspicious chemicals, electrical components and a protective chemical/biological suit were found in a raid in a Paris suburb.

British police do not make any connection between the British and French arrests, but they say a link may emerge later in the ongoing investigation.

Since the September 11 attacks on the United States last year, Britain has detained more than 200 terror suspects. According to Britain's Home Office, 26 of those are still awaiting trial, the rest were released after questioning. No one has so far been convicted of any terrorist offense in Britain.

Security has been tightened here recently, with British officials warning of a heightened possibility of a terrorist attack on British soil during the Christmas-New Year holiday season.