9 Feb – Federal prosecutors have dropped a criminal case against a Melbourne man who was accused of trying to fight in the Middle East against Islamic State.
Jamie Reece Williams, 29, had been charged with a single count of engaging in conduct to prepare to enter a foreign country with the intention of engaging in hostile activity, following his arrest by anti-terrorism police in late 2014.
But in a decision that will likely have ramifications for the Australians who have been investigated for engaging in the fight against Islamic State, and those who want to travel to the Middle East to do so, a federal prosecutor told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday the charge against Mr Williams would be withdrawn.
Prosecutor Andrew Doyle did not outline why the charge had been withdrawn. Magistrate Donna Bakos struck out the charge.
Outside court, Mr Williams said he was “very happy” with the outcome but did not comment further.
Defence counsel Jessie Smith made an application for the Australian Federal Police to pay Mr Williams’ legal costs, which the magistrate granted.
Mr Williams was in court, dressed in a navy blue suit, on Tuesday, along with a large group of supporters.
Anti-terrorism police had alleged Mr Williams engaged in that conduct in December 2014, when he was intercepted boarding a Qatar-bound flight at Melbourne Airport.
Police had alleged he planned to engage with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.
Mr Williams, an Epping man who has worked as a security guard and homelessness volunteer, had faced life in prison if he was found guilty of the charges.
During a court appearance last year, a magistrate extended Mr Williams’ bail so federal Attorney-General George Brandis could have more time to consider the case against Mr Williams.
A previous court hearing was told Mr Williams had taken steps to engage in the conflict lawfully and was trying to join the Yekineyen Parastina Gel, a Kurdish paramilitary group recognised by Western nations.