A Sri Lankan university student who was wrongfully detained in Goulburn’s Supermax prison over terrorism-related charges has called out Australian authorities for “immature” and “unprofessional” conduct which violated “basic and fundamental human rights”.
Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen, 25, was arrested in his University of NSW office in August, after a notebook allegedly containing terrorist ideology inspired by Islamic State was found on the eastern suburbs campus.
The notebook contained notes detailing a potential attack that was planned for several months away, which involved iconic Sydney landmarks and plans to kill former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Nizamdeen then spent four weeks in solitary confinement in Goulburn Supermax prison.
However, in a surprising about-face, authorities dropped all charges against the PhD student last month, when a handwriting expert found there was no “conclusive” proof that the writing in the notebook was Mr Nizamdeen’s.
On Wednesday the 25-year-old held a press conference in his hometown of Colombo, in Sri Lanka, the first time he has addressed media since the ordeal.
Mr Nizamdeen detailed the “hideous” experience of his time spent in solitary confinement in the maximum security Australian jail.
“The method in which the AFP conducted themselves was completely immature, unprofessional, irresponsible, embarrassing, and biased to say the least,” he said.
“I strongly believe this happened because I’m an Asian, on a student visa.”
Mr Nizamdeen was supported by his maternal uncle Farman Cassim, who was also part of his legal team, at the press conference; where the two sat below a projector screen displaying the words “Welcome home, our hero”.
Mr Nizamdeen delivered his statement after footage was played from the original press conference, held by the Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce immediately after his arrest.
A statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the time of his arrest was also played.
“The AFP, NSW Police and the authorities are responsible for abominable conduct and irreparable damage, which cannot be quantified in any manner whatsoever,” he said.
“It took six days for my lawyers to contact me. I had no access to lawyers or my family [in] this time, in solitary confinement in Supermax prison. I had no contact with the outside world for six days which is a violation of basic and fundamental human rights.”
Mr Nizamdeen was released on bail on September 28, before all charges against him were formally dropped on October 19.
He said he believed the AFP “had the wrong impression that I did not have the resources or capability of defending my innocence”.
Mr Nizamdeen went on to explain that the single piece of evidence against him had been “discovered in an office space where I hadn’t worked for over a month”.
In October, NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing denied police had ruined the young man’s life.
He said the investigation was ongoing because “there were very serious threats against individuals contained within that document”.
Mr Nizamdeen is the nephew of Sri Lanka’s Sports and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha.
He is also the grandson of Jehan Kamer Cassim, the former chairman of Sri Lanka’s Bank of Ceylon.
Mr Nizamdeen’s costs application was set down for hearing on November 23 in Central Local Court.