White supremacist ordered to read classical literature instead of going to jail

Classical literature instead of jail time: A right-wing extremist avoided prison after being given the alternative to read classic novels. 

Ben John, 21, a former student from the UK, was found guilty of downloading nearly 70,000 white supremacist documents, including a bomb-making instruction manual.

However, instead of being put behind bars, the young supremacist was ordered to read classic literature by Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens. John was also made to promise that he would not continue downloading more right-wing material.

Moreover, Judge Timothy Spencer QC ordered the 21-year-old to return to court every four months, where he will be tested on his reading process. The convict is also assigned to undergo 30 days of a Healthy Identity Intervention program.

Along with the list of classical novels John has to read, he was also given a suspended two years’ imprisonment and another two years on license. Additionally, he was handed a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order.

In the next five years, the extremist must stay in touch with the police, giving them full access to his online activity. 

Last month, John was convicted of being in possession of information that could potentially be of use in committing an act of terror. The maximum jail time he could have received was estimated at 15 years.

Nevertheless, according to Judge Spencer, the 21-year-old’s crime was an isolated incident, taking his age and perceived lack of wisdom into consideration.

At the hearing, the judge told the convict that he believed he was a “lonely individual with few if any true friends.”

Reportedly, John had been identified as a terror risk shortly after he turned 18. At the time, he was also referred to the Prevent program. Despite participating in the program, he still persistently downloaded right-wing material and wrote a letter attacking members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and liberals.

After making John promise not to research any more right-wing material, Judge Spenser told him:

“Have you read Dickens? Austen? Start with Pride and Prejudice and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Think about Hardy. Think about Trollope. 

On 4 January you will tell me what you have read and I will test you on it. I will test you and if I think you are [lying to] me you will suffer.”

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