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.”
The response provoked murmurs from the studio audience and an angry reaction from Mr Mallah, who said it was Mr Ciobo who should leave the country for having such views.
“The difference is, I haven’t threatened to kill anybody,” Mr Ciobo said.
“I haven’t threatened to kill people that put their lives on the line for the values this country represents.”
Mr Mallah later tweeted: “I would pay to see that Minister dumped on ISIS territory in Iraq”.
Mr Mallah admitted having travelled to Syria to meet with people fighting in the region, and described comments by Mr Ciobo as the reason young Islamic people were preparing to leave Australia and fight for Islamic State.
Earlier in the program Mr Ciobo had confirmed the Government’s contentious citizenship laws would include judicial review.
He refused, however, to go into the detail of how such an appeal could work.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday said he was confident revised legislation to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship would “minimise” the risk of a constitutional challenge.
The laws are expected to be introduced to Parliament later this week.
This article was originally published by ABC.
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