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PKK suspect denied bail, shows no emotion

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016 By Andi Yu

A Sydney magistrate has acknowledged Renas Lelikan was being harassed by Islamic State sympathisers in jail, but said this was no reason to release him on bail.

Lelikan, 38, who is accused of belonging to a Kurdish terrorist group, sat quietly in his orange jumpsuit as he appeared on the Central Local Court video link screen on Friday.

Magistrate Carmel Forbes said while it was significant he is being yelled at and tormented throughout the night, "I am not satisfied it is enough" for granting bail.

Lelikan's defence that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been an enemy of IS and is fighting against it in Iraq since 2014 was not an exceptional circumstance justifying bail, she said.

"That argument presupposes that the enemy of our enemy is our friend," Ms Forbes said.

The AFP arrested Lelikan at his northern beaches home last week, accusing him of PKK membership between 2005 and 2015.

Lelikan faces a maximum 10 years in prison if found guilty of being a PKK member, a group the Australian government has listed as a terrorist organisation since 2005.

He declared his PKK membership to the Australian government when he first came to the country in 1997, Ms Forbes said.

Lelikan first clashed with Australian authorities in 1999 when he used a molotov cocktail at a protest and set himself on fire, suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body.

He became an Australian citizen in 2004, left Australia in 2005 and travelled to Kurdish regions in Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

The next record of his activity was in February 2007, the court heard, when Lelikan was arrested in France for being a member of, laundering money and raising funds for the PKK.

A French court granted him bail and he fled France, only to be arrested in the Netherlands and brought back to France where he served seven months in jail.

The French granted him bail again in 2008 and this time he successfully fled the country on a family member's passport.

The court heard Lelikan lived in Iraq between 2011 and 2015, and came back in October last year with the help of the AFP after he told the Australian government he was under threat.

Commonwealth prosecutor Imad Abdul-Karim submitted that images of Lelikan in PKK uniform holding weapons were evidence of his involvement with the group.

But Mr Boulton said Lelikan was a "journalist and prolific writer" and was dressed like a soldier because he was working in a war zone.

Kurdish Australian Association spokesperson Brusk Aeiveri told reporters outside court on Friday that Lelikan had an important role of reporting on Kurdish issues in the Middle East and his community was disappointed its friend would remain behind bars.

"It's a pretty sad day for democracy and for freedom of speech," he said.

The case will return to court on September 15.

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