Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Queensland terrorism suspect gets COVID-19 bail

A Queensland man accused of attempting to support a terrorist organisation will be released on bail amid the coronavirus crisis.

April 2, 2020

An alleged terrorism sympathiser will be released from jail after a Brisbane court was told the coronavirus crisis will have a severe impact on his wellbeing.

Alaa Adam Atwani is charged with attempting to provide support to a terrorist organisation in 2014.

Prosecutors say the 28-year-old sent video-editing software to his ISIS-affiliated brother, Samir, in Syria.

Atwani is expected to fight the charge after it is decided whether he will be transferred to NSW, where he is accused of committing the offence.

He was granted bail in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Janelle Brassington says Atwani’s situation is exceptional and he should be released.

He had no criminal history, strong ties to the community and did not attempt to flee Australia when police started investigating him, she said.

There is also likely to be a significant delay in his case.

“That is not all attributable to COVID-19, but also to the probable consequences of the transfer to NSW and obtaining a court date for a jury trial,” Ms Brassington said.

This could result in Atwani spending a significant amount of time in jail waiting, which was likely to be tough given he was a former Queensland police recruit, she said.

The move south could also make it difficult for Atwani to have contact with his family and legal team for a significant period of time.

During her submissions to the court, Atwani’s lawyer, Ruth O’Gorman, said the threat of illness from the coronavirus was much greater in NSW.

“If Mr Atwani is transferred in the very near future … there is going to be significant and severe consequences for him,” she said.

In opposing bail, commonwealth prosecutor Sinead Butler said Atwani had used Facebook to message Samir in code about ISIS and the pair swapped propaganda material.

Atwani is also accused of sending his younger brother video-editing software after his sibling joined the Islamic State media centre.

Atwani was charged in May 2019 following a lengthy investigation by Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

When asked about the software transfer, he told officers his brother needed it to edit videos for his YouTube channel.

Two years earlier, in 2017, Atwani signed up with the Queensland Police Service as a recruit but was asked to leave after he was questioned about his alleged link to ISIS.

Atwani’s bail conditions include a 10pm curfew, wearing an electronic tracking device and reporting to the Logan police station every day.

He wiped tears from his eyes as he thanked Ms Brassington.

His matter will return to court on July 3, when opposing legal teams are expected to argue over which state the case will be heard in.

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