OFW journalism consortium news flash exclusive (Last of two parts)
from an Aug. 31 report by Dylan Welch, Rafael Epstein and Erik Jensen of the Sydney Morning Herald
Another on the list is Bosnian refugee Mirsad Mulahalilovic. He was released from prison in 2009 after serving more than three years for his role in a foiled terrorist plot that was to target Sydney in 2005.
Mr. Hopper is representing Ms. Hutchinson and Ms. Giddins in court cases in Australia where they are trying to get the government to reveal why it has taken away their passports.
”They would both like the opportunity to properly address the allegations but the government doesn’t want to say anything… all this cloak and dagger stuff is getting a bit old, they have to put up or shut up,” Mr. Hopper said.
Ms. Giddins is a Muslim convert who grew up in western NSW. She moved to Yemen five years ago and was arrested there by secret police last year after claims she contacted al Awlaqi.
After being released, she returned to Australia and had her passport cancelled at ASIO’s request. ”ASIO assesses Giddins has an extremist interpretation of Islam and her activities in Yemen are prejudicial to security,” a letter to Mr Hopper stated.
Mr. Hopper said of her: ”She’s done nothing wrong. If she has had any contact with people of interest to the intelligence community, it has all been innocent on her part, she doesn’t know anything about these so called plans to recruit women”.
Melanie Brown, a former army signaller in East Timor, came to prominence after she married Willie Brigitte and converted to Islam. Brigitte, a French convert to Islam, was later implicated in a plot to bomb or attack various sites in Sydney. He was deported to France, where he was sentenced to nine years in prison on terrorism charges.
Ms. Hutchinson converted to Islam in the 1970s when she went to Bali and married an Indonesian. She later married to a man believed to be the head of Jemaah Islamiah’s Australian operations, though he was never implicated in terrorism.
She took her children to Afghanistan and then to Iran following the attacks of September 11, 2001. She was later brought back to Australia under armed guard by ASIO officers, and has been here since.
Mr. Hopper said Ms. Hutchinson had never been to Yemen. And although her sons had been detained there, they were exonerated. “I’ve met her two boys and they’re lovely kids, anything else on their minds but engaging in obnoxious terrorism. They’re not into that at all.”
Mr. Hopper said that while it was good that WikiLeaks was making governments accountable, there had been unfortunate releases, including ”ridiculous” cables on David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. ”And this is a similar sort of thing, it shows how unreliable the US intelligence agencies are on the people who have become their targets.”
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, breaking the government’s policy of not commenting on WikiLeaks, criticised the unedited release of the list. ”The publication of any information that could compromise Australia’s national security – or inhibit the ability of intelligence agencies to monitor potential threats – is incredibly irresponsible,” he said.
In the US there was some concern expressed about WikiLeaks most recent release, with The New York Times suggesting it may have compromised the safety of some diplomatic sources.#