By MATTHEW DORAN.
A Government frontbencher has told a man acquitted of terrorism charges a decade ago that he should no longer be an Australian citizen.
Steve Ciobo, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was confronted by Sydney man Zaky Mallah on the ABC’s Q&A program.
Mr Mallah was found not guilty of preparing a suicide attack on a Commonwealth building after being held for two years in Goulburn jail.
In a plea bargain, Mr Mallah pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officials.
“As the first man in Australia to be charged with terrorism under the harsh Liberal Howard government in 2003, I was subject to solitary confinement, a 22-hour lockdown, dressed in most times in an orange overall and treated like a convicted terrorist while under the presumption of innocence,” Mr Mallah said.
“I had done and said some stupid things, including threatening to kidnap and kill, but in 2005 I was acquitted of those terrorism charges.
“What would have happened if my case had been decided by the minister himself and not the courts?”
“From memory, I thought you were acquitted on a technicality rather than it being on the basis of a substantial finding of fact,” Mr Ciobo replied.
“My understanding of your case was that you were acquitted because at that point in time the laws weren’t retrospective.
“But I’m happy to look you straight in the eye and say that I’d be pleased to be part of the Government that would say that you were out of the country.
“I would sleep very soundly at night with that point of view.”