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Convicted terrorist regains Australian citizenship

Abdul Nacer Benbrika has won a High Court case to have his citizenship restored after being convicted of plotting terror attacks against Australian landmarks.


The High Court of Australia has ruled Abdul Nacer Benbrika is an Australian citizen. Credit: AAP

Convicted terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika has won his High Court case to have his Australian citizenship restored after it was cancelled following his conviction for plotting terror attacks.


TIMELINE


*  2005 - Benbrika arrested over plots to attack landmarks in Melbourne, including the AFL grand final at the MCG


* September 2008 - convicted of three terrorism offences


* February 2009 -  sentenced to an effective sentence of 15 years with a minimum non-parole period of 12 years


* October 2010 - Supreme Court of Victoria upholds sentence


* November 2020 - Benbrika's total sentence expires and then home affairs minister Peter Dutton strips the Algerian-born dual citizen of his Australian citizenship


* February 2021 - Benbrika applies to revoke the stripping of his citizenship


* December 2022 - application makes it to the High Court 


* February 2023 - case referred to High Court full bench


* November 2023 - the High Court rules provision of the Australian Citizenship Act giving the minister the power to strip Benbrika's citizenship was invalid and he is an Australian citizen


HIGH COURT RULING


* The High Court ruled the home affairs minister could not revoke Benbrika's citizenship as it amounted to the government applying punishment for a criminal offence, which is solely the remit of the courts


* Judgment was 6-1 with Justice Simon Steward dissenting, arguing stripping a dual citizen of their nationality was not punishment but rather a recognition that their extreme conduct "inexorably separated themselves from the people as a community and from Australia itself"


NEXT STEPS


* Benbrika is set to be released on a supervision order - which allows for 24-hour monitoring including scrutiny of telephone and online communications, friendships and movements


* Both the Commonwealth and Benbrika's lawyers agreed to a supervision order over a continuing detention order


* Benbrika will not be freed immediately after the High Court decision but after a Victorian court determines the parameters of the supervision order


* Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil is examining the judgment and its implications


* The minister has flagged new laws to strip terrorists of their citizenship if they are dual citizens, but wants them to be robust enough to stand up against High Court challenges before introducing them to parliament 


* Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham has offered coalition support to pass any laws needed to ensure Australians are kept safe


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