Australia has cancelled the citizenship of Abdul Nacer Benbrika, an Algerian-born Muslim cleric, after he was held guilty of three charges of terrorism in 2005. Benbrika will be the first person to be stripped of his citizenship by the Australian government.
We will do whatever is possible to protect Australians: Australian Minister for Home Affairs
The Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that Benbrika posed a significant terrorist threat to the country and that the Australian government would do everything possible to protect Australians. “It is a person who’s posing a significant terrorist threat to our country, then we’ll do whatever is possible within Australian law to protect Australians”, said Dutton today. “I cancelled the Australian citizenship of convicted terrorist Benbrika, (making him) the first individual to have lost citizenship onshore”, he added.
Benbrika has 90 days to appeal
Benbrika was imprisoned after being convicted of directing a terrorist group, being a member of a terrorist group and possessing material associated with the planning of a terrorist attack. He is still in Australia even after serving his sentence as under the Australian law, a person convicted of terror offences can be detained for up to three years after finishing their sentence. Dutton said that Benbrika had been notified of the loss of his citizenship and he would remain in prison while an interim detention order was in place. His lawyers had appealed against his detention. Benbrika has a period of 90 days to appeal against the cancellation of his visa and return to Algeria.
Under Australian law, a person’s citizenship can only be cancelled if they have dual citizenships so that a person is not rendered stateless. In 2019, Australia had stripped the citizenship of Neil Prakash, an alleged Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) recruiter, who is in prison in Turkey. Australia had contended that Prakash was a dual citizen having Fijian citizenship. However, Australia’s claim was denied by Fiji which resulted in strained relations between the two countries.