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Australian held on return from fighting Daesh

(AFP)
Filed on April 7, 2015

A former unionist and Australian political figure has been detained at Darwin Airport after returning from the Middle East .

Sydney  — A former unionist and Australian political figure has been detained at Darwin Airport after returning from the Middle East where he is believed to have been fighting against the Daesh terror group, a report said on Sunday.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it understood that Matthew Gardiner was stopped by customs officials on Sunday after flying in to the northern Australian city via Sweden and Singapore.

The Australian Federal Police confirmed that its officers “spoke to a Darwin man today following his return to Australia”, but did not name the traveller.

“Enquiries relating to his activities while overseas are ongoing and as such it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” a police spokesman said.

Gardiner, a former trade unionist and ex-president of the Northern Territory branch of the opposition Labor Party, reportedly left Australia early this year to join a Kurdish militia fighting the Daesh.

Australia is involved in the US-led coalition against the terror group in Iraq and last year passed a law criminalising travel to terror hotspots, in a measure designed to stop militants from going to Iraq and Syria to fight. But fighting for either side in the conflict in Syria and Iraq is understood to be punishable on return to Australia.

“Australians risk prosecution under Australian law if they fight in other countries,” the Department of Foreign Affairs says on its travel warning for Iraq.

Gardiner reportedly served as an Australian Army combat engineer in Somalia in the 1990s, but has since married and has three children. — AFP


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