Aus­tralian ques­tioned af­ter help­ing fight Is­lamic State: re­port

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

A for­mer trade union­ist and Aus­tralian po­lit­i­cal fig­ure was Sun­day ques­tioned on his re­turn from the Mid­dle East where he is be­lieved to have helped those fight­ing against the Is­lamic State group, re­ports said.

The Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion said it un­der­stood that Matthew Gar­diner was stopped by cus­toms of­fi­cials early 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.”

A po­lice spokesman said the man, who was not named, was re­leased with­out charge.

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

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

Gar­diner re­port­edly served as an Aus­tralian Army com­bat en­gi­neer in So­ma­lia in the 1990s, but it is not known whether he en­gaged in fight­ing when in the Mid­dle East.

Australia is in­volved in the U.S.led coali­tion against IS in Iraq and last year passed a law crim­i­nal­iz­ing travel to ter­ror hotspots, in an mea­sure de­signed to stop ji­hadists 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 was re­moved as the North­ern Ter­ri­tory chief of the La­bor Party and suspended from the or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter the news he had trav­eled to the Mid­dle East emerged, the ABC said.

Fed­eral La­bor leader Bill Shorten ex­pressed re­lief Sun­day that Gar­diner was “back home safe and sound.”

“But I’m con­cerned any­one thinks they should be get­ting in­volved in th­ese for­eign con­flicts, no mat­ter what their in­ten­tions,” he said, the ABC re­ported.

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment has in­creas­ingly been sound­ing the alarm over rad­i­cal­ized cit­i­zens, with about 90 thought to be fight­ing with the Is­lamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

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