ASIO To Sydney Sheikh: Deport Yourself, Please

ASIO to Sydney Sheikh: deport yourself, please

Tom Allard
The Age
November 16, 2007

ASIO has asked a prominent Sydney Shiite cleric, Sheik Mansour Leghaei, to “voluntarily deport” himself in the latest, bizarre twist in a lengthy bid by the spy agency to enforce an adverse security assessment against him.

Sheikh Mansour, who came to Australia from Iran and is a father of four, has hosted Attorney-General Philip Ruddock at his Imam Husain Islamic Centre at Earlwood and been the recipient of a glowing reference from Labor frontbenchers Robert McClelland and Anthony Albanese.

He has also been widely praised for his moderate teachings and leading role in setting up inter-faith dialogues.

But ASIO has accused him of being a spy for Iran. It also confiscated a notebook from him which it said contains jihadist material.

According to ASIO, parts of the book discussed a holy war to be fought with “infidels” who “do not accept the Koran as the book of heaven”, and gave advice on spying.

However, Sheikh Mansour has said the notebook was translated incorrectly and has denied he is, or was, an Iranian spy.

Sheikh Mansour and his legal team have never been able to see the full detail of the security assessment made against him that required the Department of Immigration to revoke his visa.

He had appealed to the Federal Court in 2005, but it ruled that national security considerations overruled any notion of procedural fairness or natural justice.

Last week the High Court declined an application for him to appeal the decision.

As Sheikh Mansour has four dependants who are Australian residents, including one child who was born in Australia, he said that meant he could not be forcibly deported. That led to the Australian Government Solicitor, acting for ASIO, to ask Sheikh Mansour this week to voluntarily leave the country.

“That's the dilemma they have,” Sheikh Mansour said yesterday. “I don't intend to go. I have asked the community and they don't want me to go.”

ASIO yesterday declined to comment.