Australia issues first anti-terror control order
Australian authorities issued their first anti-terror control order on Monday, imposing a strict curfew on a man who had his conviction on terrorist charges quashed by an appeals court 10 days ago.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the control order had been issued against Joseph Terrence Thomas, forcing the father of three to report to police three days a week and imposing a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew on his movements.
Thomas was jailed for five years in April on charges of receiving $3,500 and a plane ticket from senior al Qaeda agent Khaled bin Attash after training with Osama bin Laden's militant network in Afghanistan in 2001.
But he was set free on August 18 when an appeals court quashed his conviction, saying an interview with Australian police conducted in Pakistan was inadmissible as evidence because it was not voluntary and because Thomas had no lawyer to offer advice.
Ruddock said the control order had been issued to protect the community rather than to punish Thomas, and said there was enough evidence to support the accusation that Thomas had trained with a banned terrorist organisation.
"I know there are two grounds and I know there was evidence produced that would allow a person to form a view on reasonable grounds ... that training had occurred," Ruddock told reporters.
The control order is the first issued in Australia under tougher anti-terrorist laws, which have been gradually tightened since the Sept. 11, 2001, airliner attacks on the United States.
But Thomas's brother, Les Thomas, said the move was a stunt which ended his brother's country holiday with his family.
"It's a vindictive move by the Australian Federal Police, and we hope it can be overturned," Les Thomas told reporters.
During his trial, Thomas's lawyers argued that he had been foolish and naive and had never intended to act as a "resource" for al Qaeda. They said he had taken the money and plane ticket because he wanted to get home.
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