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Dual citizen journalist refused new passport

ABC
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An Australian man trapped in an Iraqi refugee camp at risk from Islamic State (IS) has had his application for a new passport officially refused.

Renas Lelikan, who holds dual Turkish and Australian citizenship, was informed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on Friday he would not be provided with a new passport on national security grounds.

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A fortnight ago the ABC revealed Mr Lelikan was living in the Makhmur refugee camp and feared for his life because the camp was under regular attack from IS fighters.

Mr Lelikan, a journalist of Kurdish origin, first contacted the Australian embassy in Baghdad in January, asking for a replacement passport or temporary travel document to allow him to return to Australia.

Mr Lelikan is a citizen journalist and currently lives in an Iraqi refugee camp. Photo: ABC
Mr Lelikan is a journalist and is currently trapped in an Iraqi refugee camp. Photo: ABC

His original passport had been held in France after he was convicted of being associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — a militant Kurdish group that is banned in France and Australia.

He fled France shortly after his conviction using the passport of a relative.

It is understood Mr Lelikan is not subject to any extradition request from France and the sole penalty for his leaving the country before the expiration of sentence is a five-year ban from entering France.

After first making contact with the Australian embassy in January, Mr Lelikan was eventually told that his passport application was being processed, but he was recently sent a lengthy questionnaire from Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

On Sunday evening Channel Seven reported Mr Lelikan’s passport application had been refused.

In a statement, a spokesperson for DFAT said the department did not comment on individual cases, however, in a veiled reference to Mr Lelikan’s situation, said that the Australian Government did not want citizens participating on either side of the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

“The Government will apply our robust national security laws equally to any Australian supporting terrorism or a terrorist organisation,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Lelikan rejected the notion he posed a security risk to Australia, despite pictures on social media that showed him posing with what appears to be an AK-47.

“It makes me laugh when I read that decision. It’s just ridiculous,” Mr Lelikan said.

“As an Australian citizen I have a right to get my passport while I live in these conditions, under threat of IS.”

Mr Lelikans lawyer, Jessie Smith, urged the Government to assist her client to leave Iraq and said that any investigation into his political allegiances could happen in Australia.

“[The Government] should urgently grant a temporary travel document to facilitate his journey home. This is in line with Australia’s human rights obligations under international law,” she said.

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