NICOLA Sturgeon is to ask Police Scotland for assurance that anti-nuclear protestors will not be classed as "domestic extremists" following a report by the Sunday National.

The National's sister paper revealed last weekend that anti-fracking activists had been given the label by the single force despite Home Office guidance to the contrary.

The move puts those opposed to fracking in the same category as right-wing and Islamist extremists under counter terrorism strategy.

A report authored by The Ferret for the Sunday National showed how documents also reveal that Police Scotland has attempted to infiltrate communities near Ineos’s Grangemouth chemicals plant to gain information on people involved with peaceful anti-fracking groups.

Today Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie urged Sturgeon to "give an assurance that campaigners at Faslane on Saturday will not be designated as 'domestic extremists' merely for attending a peaceful rally".

The statement refers to the Nae Nukes Anywhere event, which will draw international speakers.

Sturgeon said: "If I were to start to speak in the chamber on behalf of Police Scotland, there would be all sorts of justifiable and legitimate criticisms of me for doing so."

However, she went on: "I am happy to ask the chief constable on behalf of Police Scotland to address the point that Patrick Harvie has raised."

Harvie, who will attend the Faslane event, also pressed the First Minister to explain what actions the government is taking to have Police Scotland reverse the "extremist" categorisation of peaceful protestors.

He said: “Anti-fracking campaigners who exercise their democratic right to protest are heroes. Yet Police Scotland have labelled them domestic extremists. The First Minister urgently needs to clarify when she and her Justice Secretary became aware of this and spell out what actions the government will take to address this."

Commenting at First Minister's Questions, Sturgeon stated her own support for the anti-nuclear movement. She told the chamber: "I absolutely support the right of peaceful democratic protest.

"I have taken part in many peaceful democratic protests, including at Faslane against nuclear weapons. I will defend the right of people to demonstrate, whether they are protesting against fracking or nuclear weapons or anything else. As long as they do that peacefully and democratically, I defend their right to do so.

"It is for the police to answer for the operational decisions that they take, but that is my view. I am happy to state that view unequivocally today."

In his foreword for Police Scotland’s Annual Police Plan for 2017-18, Chief Constable Phil Gormley outlined how Scottish policing would be delivered over the coming year in alignment with a long-term strategic vision.

On plans for tackling counter terrorism and domestic extremism, the document states: “We will continue to pursue terrorists and those who sponsor them and explore all opportunities to disrupt and detect such activities.”

While referring to the “so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)” and “Northern Ireland related terrorism (NIRT)”, the document also labels anti-fracking groups and hunt saboteurs as a “domestic extremism” (DE) threat, placing them alongside banned neo-Nazi terrorist groups Scottish Dawn and National Action.