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Australia

Sri Lankan student detained in Australia on terrorism charges attacks ‘biased’ police after being freed

  • Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen, 25, was arrested in August and charged with creating a document in connection with preparing for a terrorist act
  • Police declined to apologise to Nizamdeen after the charges were dropped, saying the investigation was ongoing and ‘we can never be complacent’
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 10:03pm

A Sri Lankan student who was detained in an Australian “supermax” prison on terrorism charges that were later dropped has criticised the “embarrassing and biased” police investigation against him.

Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen, 25, was arrested in August and charged with creating a document in connection with preparing for a terrorist act.

Police claimed a notebook found in a workspace sometimes used by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) PhD student laid out a graphic Islamic State “affiliated” terrorist plot that reportedly targeted prominent Sydney political figures and landmarks.

In September, police suddenly announced they were dropping all charges against Nizamdeen after two handwriting experts said it was unclear whether he wrote the text in the notebook.

“It took six days for my lawyers to contact me,” Nizamdeen told reporters in Colombo on Thursday. “I had no contact with the outside world for six days, which is a violation of basic human and fundamental rights.”

It took another month for his family to establish contact, he said: “The method in which the [Australian Federal Police] conducted themselves was completely immature, unprofessional, irresponsible, embarrassing and biased to say the least.”

I had no contact with the outside world for six days, which is a violation of basic human and fundamental rights
Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen

One newspaper front page after Nizamdeen’s arrest depicted the IT worker in a keffiyeh headscarf under the headline: “Poster boy for terror”.

“Nowhere in the world would you have had the media circus which immediately followed my wrongful arrest,” Nizamdeen said. “I strongly believe this happened because I am an Asian on a student visa and [police] had the wrong impression that I did not have the resources to defend or declare my innocence.”

Nizamdeen’s uncle is a Sri Lankan cabinet minister and his arrest sparked protests in the country.

“The whole saga has ruined my future and I have returned to Sri Lanka to carry on my life,” he said. “The ordeal has left me shattered and all I can think of is to raise my voice and stand in support of other victims of injustice who stand wrongfully accused by any system.”

Police declined to apologise to Nizamdeen after the charges were dropped, saying the investigation was ongoing and “we can never be complacent because the terrorist threat in Australia and NSW is very, very real”.

They said the investigation was now focusing “on the possibility that the content of the notebook has been created by other people”.

Relatives of Nizamdeen had claimed he was framed by a colleague with a vendetta against him.

Nizamdeen plans to sue for compensation.