Australian IS medic arrested on return, says he is innocent

Updated on Jul 25, 2015 12:56 PM IST
A nurse, who claims he went to Syria for humanitarian work and was forced by Islamic State militants to work as a medic, was arrested after returning home to Australia and faces potential terrorism-related charges.
AP | By, Sydney

A nurse, who claims he went to Syria for humanitarian work and was forced by Islamic State militants to work as a medic, was arrested after returning home to Australia and faces potential terrorism-related charges.

Adam Brookman, 39, was arrested at Sydney International Airport on Friday night on a Victoria state warrant related to his alleged involvement in the conflict in Syria, Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

He appeared from a police cell by video link in the Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday, where a magistrate granted an application by the Melbourne Joint Counter Terrorism Team to extradite him to Victoria. He has to appear in a Melbourne court no later than Monday morning.

The court heard a warrant for Brookman's arrest was issued on Friday. Police did not detail the charges he could face.

Brookman did not speak during his brief appearance.

He surrendered to officials in Turkey on Tuesday. He voluntarily flew back to Australia with a police escort.

Brookman, a Muslim convert and father of five children who live in Melbourne, told Fairfax Media in May that he went to Syria last year to do humanitarian work for civilians caught in the war. He said he was innocent of any crime.

Brookman said he was forced to join Islamic State militants after being injured in an airstrike and taken to a hospital controlled by the group.

"After I recovered, they wouldn't let me leave," he told Fairfax.

He won the militants' trust by working as a medic and was able to escape to Turkey in December.

Brookman told Fairfax that he opposed the violent and extreme actions of the militants, including the beheading of their captives.

"Of course there will be an investigation. That is fine. Hopefully things don't look that bad," Brookman told Fairfax.

It is not clear whether Brookman was still in Syria on December 04, when Australia made criminalised any individual's presence in the Islamic State stronghold of al-Raqqa province in Syria, punishable by 10 years in prison. If charged, the onus would be on Brookman to prove he had a legitimate reason to be in the terrorist hotspot.

Supporting a terrorist organisation is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

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