A French sniper, who trained in Syria while fighting ISIS, has gone on trial in France accused of recruiting people to commit terrorist attacks against police and military officers.
The man, known only as Florian D, is accused of being an ultra-leftist anarchist who went to Syria in 2017 to fight with the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS.
It is alleged that on his return to France in 2018, he plotted a series of attacks against the authorities.
A report by the French DGSI intelligence agency identified what it described as a group of ultra-leftists led by Florian D.
He and six others – five men and one woman – are accused of criminal terrorist association linked to planned attacks in France.
Three are also on trial for not handing over the codes of their encrypted devices to police.
Investigators say they found evidence that Florian D was trying to recruit people to perpetrate violent acts against police or military officers in France and that the group was experimenting with explosives.
Authorities allege they took part in shooting exercises with air rifles, and tested explosives. Police say they found products that could be used to make explosives when they searched the homes of those accused.
The seven have denied any intention to attack state institutions.
A lawyer representing Florian D, Raphael Kempf, told FranceInfo radio the explosives were being used to make firecrackers for fun and it was the DGSI's "fictionalised reading" of the situation that would make it seem as though his client and the others on trial wanted to attack symbols of the state.
The defence lawyers have denounced the trial as a political act against people whose world views the government disagrees with, and will argue in court that no target or time for any allegedly planned attack was ever identified.
Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin has repeatedly condemned groups identifies as “ultra-leftist”, accusing them of violence during demonstrations against the government's pension reforms.
In June, the government dissolved a climate activist group which it said had instigated violence and vandalism at such rallies.
The last trial of ultra-leftists in France ended with charges being dropped.
The current trial, which started on Wednesday, is expected to run until the end of this month, with the accused facing up to 10 years in prison.