1 Sep 2011

Restrictions on man linked to al-Qaeda questioned

4:23 pm on 1 September 2011

A legal expert is questioning what kind of restrictions a New Zealand man with alleged links to al-Qaeda could be under.

Mark Taylor, 38, has been named in a US diplomatic cable published by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks as having ties to a radical Yemeni cleric connected to the terrorist group. It recommends Mr Taylor be placed on a watchlist.

In February 2009, the man was deported from Pakistan for having suspected links to Islamic militants.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed on Wednesday Mr Taylor is back in New Zealand and living under a number of restrictions for what he says are very good reasons, but has refused to provide further details.

Mr Key, who is also the Security Intelligence Service Minister, says the public has nothing to fear from Mr Taylor.

A law professor at the University of Auckland says he can not imagine what those restrictions could be if Mr Taylor has not been charged with or convicted of a crime.

Bill Hodge says there is nothing under the Bill of Rights or any other statute that enables the Government to put restrictions on Mr Taylor's daily life.

He says Mr Taylor could be put under surveillance - as long as this does not extend to harassment.

Meanwhile, a security analyst says the placement of restrictions on Mr Taylor and a recommendation that he be placed on a watchlist raise many questions.

Ron Smith, co-director of Waikato University's Department of International Relations and Security Studies, says such watchlists are extremely extensive.

Mr Smith told Morning Report that, generally speaking, people would be surprised to see restrictions placed on New Zealand citizens or residents, and it raises questions about what would happen if Mark Taylor tried to leave the country.