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Australia judge calls control order against released terror suspect 'farcical'

[JURIST] An Australian magistrate called a control order [JURIST report] issued for terror suspect Joseph Terrence "Jihad Jack" Thomas [advocacy website] "farcical" on Thursday since, among other things, the order prohibits Thomas from contacting Osama Bin Laden [JURIST news archive]. The decision by the Australian government [ABC Australia report] to restrict Thomas from contacting Bin Laden, included among the 50 people also banned, was deemed by Magistrate Graham Mowbray as "silly" in what he considers a serious proceeding. Government officials suspect that Thomas met Bin Laden while training at Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. The highly debated control order [JURIST report], issued after Thomas' original terror-related conviction [BBC report] was overturned [Australian report; judgment] by the Victoria Court of Appeal, also requires him to stay within the city of Melbourne, report to police three times a week, remain at home between midnight and 5 AM each day, and only use an approved provider to connect to telephones and the Internet. Thomas' lawyers are contesting the order but the court hearing has been adjourned until September 11.

Thomas was the first Australian incarcerated under the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Act 2002 [text] after having been found guilty in February of receiving $3,500 from a senior al Qaeda member and of carrying a fake passport. His conviction was overturned [JURIST report] because authorities were found to have interviewed Thomas against his will and without access to a lawyer when he was arrested in Pakistan in 2003. AFP has more.

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