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How a Sri Lankan student’s arrest on terror charges exposes a system built to suspect minorities

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The war on terror has resulted in the gradual erosion of basic civil and human rights in the name of security. The latest casualty in Australia is Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen, a 25-year-old PhD student, who was locked up in solitary confinement in a high-security prison for four weeks on the flimsiest of evidence.

Nizamdeen has now returned home to Sri Lanka, where he told a press conference that his life has been “shattered” and his future “clearly ruined”.

Nizamdeen was charged with making a document connected to the preparation of a terrorist act. The sole piece of evidence was a notebook found in his workplace desk at the University of New South Wales. Despite denying the handwriting in the notebook was his, and the fact Nizamdeen had not used the office space for a month, he was arrested, deprived of access to a lawyer for six days and denied communication with his family for a month.

He was also classified as an “AA extreme high risk restricted” inmate, the highest classification under NSW’s corrective services system.

Mick Sheehy, NSW police’s detective acting superintendent, told the media that Nizamdeen had “affiliated” with ISIS, but less than two months later, the charges were dropped.

Nizamdeen was not released because he was proven innocent. He was released because the system could not prove him guilty. This is the logic of how counter-terrorism policing and the law works against Muslims and people of colour who are policed as suspect communities.

Under the law, one of the criteria of a terrorist act is:

it intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious........

© The Conversation