Sat, Sep 17, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Australia hands US deportee a huge bill for detention

FAIR GO?The controversial case of a anti-war activist held by Australian authorities escalated yesterday when he was handed a bill for his time in solitary confinement


The US peace activist deported from Australia this week on the grounds that he posed a "national security risk" was handed a bill for his detention and expulsion that will effectively keep him from visiting again, his lawyer said yesterday.

Julian Burnside has lodged an appeal with the authorities over the cancellation of Scott Parkin's tourist visa and a determination that he could not visit again for three years.

To travel to Australia, the 36-year-old Texan would first have to pay the bill of A$11,700 dollars (US$9,000) he was handed after being released from five days of detention in Melbourne.

Burnside said Parkin's deportation was based things he had said.

"If you can be kicked out of the country for saying words, where the words are not a criminal offence, then you have got a problem with democracy," the lawyer said. "I never thought we would be able to do that in Australia."

The Houston-based activist had been in Australia since June giving workshops on civil disobedience and methods of protest.

Parkin told Australia's ABC Radio from Los Angeles that none of his actions posed a security risk.

"I'm just completely baffled by this," he said. "I've given talks about the US anti-war movement and I've given talks about (civil engineering company) Halliburton and I've given talks about non-violent social change, you know peaceful ways of doing this like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi, but I've never done anything which they're trying to allude to."

The history teacher added: "I'd love to know the assessment the Australian Security Intelligence Organization made of me to lock me up for five days in solitary confinement and then remove me from the country essentially forcibly."

He warned the incident raised great concerns about freedom of speech in Australia and the US.

"I think we are seeing a crisis in freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Australia, the US and lots of places and people need to be aware of it," he said.

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