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Ex-Scottish leader Alex Salmond denies sex assault charges

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, one of the country's best-known politicians, has appeared in court accused of sex crimes including attempting to rape a woman at the leader’s official residence.

Salmond faces a total of 14 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault against 10 women.

He denies all the charges. The 64-year-old Salmond said outside Edinburgh’s High Court on Thursday that "I am innocent and I will defend my position vigorously.”

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, center, leaves the High Court in Edinburgh, Thursday Nov. 21, 2019. Salmond, one of the country's best-known politicians, appeared in court faces a total of 14 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault against 10 women. (Andrew MilliganPA via AP)

Salmond led the pro-independence Scottish National Party for 20 years and headed Scotland's semi-autonomous government as its first minister from 2007 to 2014.

He took Scotland to the verge of independence from the U.K. by holding a 2014 referendum. He stepped down as leader after the "remain" side won the vote 55% to 45%.

Former Scottish leader Alex Salmond, center, speaks to the media after leaving the High Court in Edinburgh, Thursday Nov. 21, 2019. Salmond, one of the country's best-known politicians, appeared in court faces a total of 14 charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault against 10 women. (Andrew MilliganPA via AP)