A New Zealander being deported from Australia after visiting Syria for a "peace mission" deserves to be sent home, a Muslim community leader in Sydney says.
Australian Islamic Friendship Association founder Keysar Trad said Taranaki man Warren Marriner was part of a group organised by another Australian Muslim community leader and anti-radicalisation campaigner Jamal Daoud.
Mr Daoud was a staunch supporter of the Bashar al-Assad regime, he said.
Mr Trad said anyone who supported the al-Assad dictatorship deserved to have serious questions asked of them.
"In the case of this New Zealand national, serious questions have to be asked about whether he supports that brutal regime, and I think it's the right decision by the Australian authorities to have him sent back to New Zealand."
Mr Trad hoped New Zealand authorities would be speaking to Mr Marriner on his arrival back in the country.
A registered nurse, formerly from Taranaki but who has lived in Perth for 11 years, Mr Marriner, 49, said he travelled to Syria to prove that it was safe to visit the country and see for himself what was going on.
Mr Daoud said he felt very bad that Mr Marriner was being deported.
He had contacted Syrian support networks in New Zealand to help Mr Marriner.
"We would do all in our capacity to help him in this difficult time. We have already contacted some people in New Zealand and in western Australia to see what we can provide and what we can do."
Mr Daoud said Mr Marriner wanted to return to Syria as soon as possible to work in a hospital.
He said his network supported President al-Assad because his government was voted in by the people of Syria.
His group, including Mr Marriner, visited areas that the Syrian army and its allies had liberated from rebel movements such as Islamic State.
Mr Marriner said he had not broken any of Australia's laws about travel to Syria and that the peace tour had convinced him most Syrians supported the al-Assad regime.
"Well, you only have to look at how he was voted in and by a vast majority too. They did have European observers here and it was an open and fair election." Mr Marriner said.
"There were thousands of Syrians in Lebanon, if you remember back to the elections, wanting to vote yet the United Nations under the guise of NATO and Britain and the like, were stopping people from voting."
Mr Marriner said life in Syria was still tough because sanctions meant it could not get the medical supplies it required.
Speaking from an immigration detention centre in Perth, Mr Marriner said he told Australian authorities he was planning to visit Syria before he left and only fell foul of immigration officials when he returned to Perth.
He was officially detained for not declaring decades old convictions in New Zealand and was due to be deported today.