Charges have been dropped against a Sri Lankan man accused of a plot to kill then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and foreign minister Julie Bishop, with police admitting he probably didn’t write threats contained in a notebook.
But they’re refusing to apologise to 25-year-old Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen, who’s planning to sue for compensation after being detained in Goulburn’s supermax jail.
The University of NSW contractor was charged with creating a document in connection with preparing for a terrorist act, and spent four weeks behind bars before being released on bail in late September.
Hand-writing experts found differences between the script in the notebook and Mr Nizamdeen’s own writing, and following “definitive advice” on Thursday the charges were formally withdrawn on Friday.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney subsequently told reporters “at this stage, based on the evidence we’ve got, it’s likely he did not write those comments in the notebook”.
NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing denied police had ruined the young man’s life, stating “those who were involved in the production and manufacture of (the notebook) are the ones who’ve had an impact on Mr Nizamdeen”.
He said the investigation was ongoing because “there were very serious threats against individuals contained within that document”.
The senior police argued investigators had acted in good faith and notified prosecutors as soon as they realised there could be an issue with the evidence.
Asked if Mr Nizamdeen had been framed, Mr McCartney replied: “There are a number of lines of inquiry in relation to this investigation.”
Both assistant commissioners refused to apologise to Mr Nizamdeen.
The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team said it supported the decision to withdraw the charges.
“The very nature of terrorism matter often means that police need to intervene earlier than they would in normal criminal matters,” NSW Police said in a statement on Friday.
The business systems analyst was not present in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Friday when prosecutors withdrew the charge.
Outside court, his lawyer Moustafa Kheir told reporters “what authorities have done to this young man is absolutely unforgivable”.
“We will be seeking justice for him in the NSW Supreme Court,” he said.
“It’s a terrible experience, as a young man who has done everything right in life, he has gone through supermax jail in unforgivable circumstances.”
Mr Nizamdeen was arrested by counter-terrorism officers at the university in August after a tip-off from a colleague.
Police said the university worker had found a notebook that allegedly named several “symbolic locations within Sydney” and individuals as “potential targets”, including Mr Turnbull and Ms Bishop.
Mr Nizamdeen was in on a student visa which has since expired.
His supporters and family rallied in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo in September, carrying posters saying he had been framed.