Monday, 05 Dec 2022

Spy agency Asio acquiesced in the use of torture when detaining Egyptian refugee, court told

Spy agency Asio acquiesced in the use of torture when detaining Egyptian refugee, court told


Spy agency Asio acquiesced in the use of torture when detaining Egyptian refugee, court told

Asio's willingness to use foreign evidence obtained under torture to detain an Egyptian refugee for more than a decade on security grounds meant Australia's spy agency had "acquiesced in the use of torture", the man's lawyer has told the full bench of the federal court.

Sayed Abdellatif, an Egyptian national, has been exiled from his homeland for 26 years after being convicted in absentia in a discredited mass trial in Cairo in 1999 for offences he never committed. He arrived with his family in Australia by boat seeking asylum in 2012 - and they have lived in the Australian community for years.

Abdellatif's claim for protection has been recognised by Australia. He has a well-founded fear of being persecuted and cannot be forced to return to his home country. But he has been denied a visa on the basis of the tainted security assessments and held in immigration detention.

The evidence used to convict Abdellatif of terrorism offences was obtained using torture, submissions to the court have outlined. That fact was known by the Australian government since 2015.

In Sydney on Wednesday, the full bench of the federal court heard an appeal lodged by the government against a decision by justice Debra Mortimer in April. That decision found the adverse security assessments made by Asio against Abdellatif - resulting in him being detained for more than a decade - were legally unreasonable and denied him procedural fairness.

Mortimer found the Asio officers who interrogated Abdellatif unfairly prejudged him, calling him a "liar" and accusing him of withholding information.

In her 133-page judgment, Mortimer found there had been the use by Asio "in a material and significant way, of evidence that had been wholly discredited, including because of the likelihood it was obtained through torture and/or 'prepared' by Egyptian authorities".

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