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Australian court curtails government’s citizenship powers

AP – Australia’s highest court yesterday found a Cabinet minister illegally cancelled a suspected Islamic State (IS) fighter’s citizenship in a landmark ruling that curtails how governments can deal with extremists.

The High Court, in a 6-to-1 judgement, restored Delil Alexander’s Australian citizenship that was removed in July last year by the then-Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

The 35-year-old Alexander, who was born in Australia and has Turkish citizenship by descent, is in a Syrian prison on terrorism convictions. He left Australia for Turkey in 2013 and crossed the Syrian border before he was arrested by a Kurdish militia in 2017.

Andrews cancelled Alexander’s citizenship based on an Australian intelligence report that he had joined the IS group of Iraq and the Levant and had likely engaged in fighting and recruiting for the extremist group.

But the court ruled that the power she used – section 36B of the Australian Citizenship Act – was unconstitutional because it gave the minister the power of a court to determine criminal guilt.