7 Dec 2015

Australian anti-IS fighter freed without charge

11:25 am on 7 December 2015

An Australian man who was detained by police after returning home from fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in the Middle East, has been released without charge.

Ashley Dyball left his home in Brisbane in May this year to join a Kurdish military campaign against IS in northern Syria, and was arrested in Germany earlier this week while taking a break from the battlefield.

Mr Dyball - also known as Mitchell Scott - touched down in Melbourne last night, where he was greeted by Australian Federal Police officers and questioned for several hours.

His lawyer, Jessie Smith, said he was "interviewed, released without charge pending further enquiry".

Comments on Mr Dyball's Facebook page say he will return home to Brisbane later today.

His father, Scott Dyball - who felt hopeful that his son's arrest in Germany would bring him home - had earlier appealed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to proceed with prosecution.

"This is wrong, what the Government is trying to do to him is wrong," Mr Dyball said.

"The charges are just so ridiculous, they should be dropped. The law was unclear at the time, if they were clear the boys would not have gone.

"All we are asking is just an amnesty."

Julia Dyball is also concerned for her son's future.

"It is difficult and we are happy as well - happy we can go and tell him it is all OK - we are all here for him," Ms Dyball said.

"We have no idea what is going to happen."

Ms Dyball said she was proud of her son's efforts to help Kurdish fighters dismantle landmines.

"Countless people and children that have been killed by landmines. And I don't see what's so criminal about dismantling landmines so people can return home," she said.

Mr Dyball had been fighting against IS forces with a Kurdish militia called the YPG in northern Syria and risks prosecution under Australian foreign fighter laws, which forbid entering a foreign country with the intention of taking up arms.

Ms Smith said Mr Dyball could claim the defence that he was engaged in the armed services of a foreign government.

"Mr Dyball could claim this defence due to Kurdish autonomy in Syria."

She also said there was a public interest argument against prosecuting citizens fighting terrorists.

"There is also a separate and quite pressing public interest argument against prosecuting citizens who have been on the front line against Islamic State," Ms Smith said.

"At this stage we'll just take it one step at a time, and the first step is to make sure that Mr Dyball's rights are reserved at Melbourne Airport."


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