Daesh suspect held in Turkey unwanted in Fiji

DAILY SABAH WITH DPA
ISTANBUL
Published 04.01.2019 00:00
Updated 04.01.2019 08:00

Accused Daesh suspect Neil Prakash, who was born in Australia to a Fijian father and a Cambodian mother, will not be allowed into Fiji since he "does not qualify," the South Pacific country's prime minister said yesterday.

The 27-year-old, currently held in a Turkish prison and facing terrorism charges, was stripped of his Australian citizenship last week, something that can only happen to dual citizens.

In response to reports claiming that Prakash may be heading to Fiji after his release, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that he "cannot come here because he does not qualify."

"At any rate, he is a terrorist and a member of [Daesh]. We don't entertain them nor do we accommodate them," Bainimarama told the local daily, Fiji Sun.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said last week that he understood Prakash had dual citizenship with Fiji because his father was born there.

The director of Fiji's Immigration Department, however, told the Fiji newspaper Tuesday that Prakash had never visited Fiji, and never sought nor held Fijian citizenship.

"Neil Prakash has not been or is a Fijian citizen. He was born in Australia and has acquired Australian citizenship since birth," Fiji Immigration Department Director Nemani Vuniwaqa said.

Vuniwaqa added that the children of Fijian citizens born overseas need to apply for citizenship as the process is not automatic.

Dutton on Wednesday defended his government's decision saying it came after a thorough process and legal advice.

Once the most wanted Australian Daesh militant, Prakash was finally captured while trying to sneak into Turkey on Oct. 24, 2016. Known by his Daesh alias, Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, Prakash has been accused at home of recruiting militants for the terror group.

The 27-year-old suspect had asked the Turkish court in one of the first hearings not to extradite him to Australia, and if they did hand down a verdict for his deportation, he would prefer to be deported to a Muslim country. The court turned down his appeal. Next hearing in his case is due on Feb. 20.

Prakash, who left Australia for Syria in 2013, was believed to have been killed in an airstrike against Daesh in Iraq's Mosul in 2016 but actually managed to survive despite being wounded. While active in the group, he appeared in several propaganda videos and magazines for the terrorist organization. Australia accuses him of planning attacks in the country and recruiting Daesh militants. He is one of the militants accused of plotting an attack during the Anzac Day ceremonies in 2015.

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