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    Apr 06, 2015

    Australian probed for 'helping' Kurdish militia


    A FORMER unionist and Australian political figure was questioned yesterday upon his return from the Middle East, where he is believed to have helped those fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), reports said.

    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it understood that Matthew Gardiner was stopped by Customs officials after flying in to the northern Australian city of Darwin via Sweden and Singapore.

    The Australian Federal Police confirmed that its officers "spoke to a Darwin man today following his return to Australia".

    A police spokesman said the man, who was not named, was released without charge.

    "Inquiries relating to his activities while overseas are ongoing and it is not appropriate to comment further at this time," he added.

    Mr Gardiner, a former trade unionist and former president of the Northern Territory branch of the opposition Labor Party, reportedly left Australia early this year to join a Kurdish militia fighting ISIS.

    He reportedly served as an Australian Army combat engineer in Somalia in the 1990s, but it is not known whether he engaged in fighting when in the Middle East.

    Australia is involved in the United States-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and last year passed a law criminalising travel to terror hot spots, in a measure designed to stop extremists from going to Iraq and Syria to fight.

    But fighting for either side in the conflict in Syria and Iraq is understood to be punishable upon return to Australia.