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Australia appeals court overturns landmark anti-terror conviction

[JURIST] The Court of Appeal division of the Supreme Court of Victoria [official website] in Australia on Friday quashed the conviction of Joseph Terrence "Jihad Jack" Thomas [advocacy website], the first Australian jailed under the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2002 [text]. The court ruled that authorities interviewed Thomas against his will and without access to a lawyer when he was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. Thomas' lawyer had argued that Thomas cooperated with the interview because he feared being held in detention indefinitely or being sent to the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay.

A jury convicted [BBC report] Thomas in February of receiving $3,500 from Khaled bin Attash [Wikipedia profile], a senior al Qaeda member, after training with the terrorist group in Afghanistan in 2002. The jury also convicted Thomas of carrying a fake passport, but acquitted him on charges of willingly providing resources and support to al Qaeda. Thomas' lawyers promptly announced plans to appeal the conviction [JURIST report], saying that Australian authorities used the trial to show that police are "tough on terrorism" under the new anti-terrorism laws [ANS materials]. Authorities released Thomas on bail on Friday, pending a possible retrial that may include a television interview that prosecutors did not use in the first trial. Reuters has more. The Age has local coverage.

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