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Australia’s top court ruled Wednesday that the government cannot strip citizenship from a man convicted of terrorism, a verdict that dealt another blow to a law allowing government ministers to revoke dual nationals of their Australian citizenship because of extremism-related crimes, the Associated Press reported.
The case centers on Algerian-born cleric Abdul Benbrika, who is currently in prison but is expected to be released in the next few weeks.
Benbrika was convicted in 2008 of three terrorism charges related to a plot to cause mass casualties at a public event in Melbourne. No attack took place, however.
In 2020, Benbrika became the first person to lose his citizenship under a clause in the law relating to terrorism-related offenses: It allows for those who are dual nationals and serve more than three years in prison to be stripped of their citizenship by the home affairs minister.
But the High Court found that the legislation was unconstitutional. The majority of judges said the home affairs minister was effectively exercising a judicial function by punishing criminal guilt.
In its decision, the court also prevented the government from deporting Benbrika from the country following his release.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his cabinet will examine the ruling in regard to the law passed nearly a decade ago by a previous government.
Meanwhile, legal analysts said the verdict was not surprising because the legislation was “a fundamental breach of the separation of powers in Australia.”
Last year, the High Court struck down another clause in the law that allowed a dual national imprisoned in Syria to lose their citizenship based on suspicion of involvement with Islamic State.