New Zealand’s Prime Minister calls on Australia to ‘do the right thing’ over the citizenship of terrorist suspects

By Praveen Menon and Colin Packham

WELLINGTON / SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday accused Australia of abdicating responsibility by “unilaterally” revoking the citizenship of a woman detained in Turkey and accused of having ties to the Islamic State.

Turkish authorities said on Monday that they had captured three New Zealanders, two children and a 26-year-old woman allegedly a member of the Islamic State and were trying to enter Turkey illegally from Syria.

The woman had held New Zealand and Australian citizenships, but the Australian government canceled her citizenship, Ardern told reporters in Wellington.

The 40-year-old leader said Australia had “relinquished its responsibilities” by unilaterally revoking citizenship and forcing New Zealand to assume responsibility for the woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was 6 years old.

“New Zealand is frankly tired of having Australia export its problems,” Ardern said. “If the shoe was on the other foot, we would take responsibility, it would be the right thing to do, and I ask Australia to do the same.”

Australian Prime Minister Morrison told a news conference in Canberra: “My job is Australia’s interests. It’s my job. And it’s my job as Australian Prime Minister to put Australia’s national security interests first. I think all Australians agree. . “

He said he was scheduled to speak to Ardern today, but added that legislation passed in parliament automatically cancels the citizenship of a dual citizen accused of being involved in terrorist activities.

The woman’s case has been known by Australian and New Zealand authorities for some time. Ardern said that after Australia had deprived her of her citizenship, she told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the decision was wrong.

“I never thought the right answer was simply to fight to revoke people’s citizenship … they did not act in good faith,” she said.

Ardern said her government has an obligation to its citizens regardless of the circumstances or offenses committed, and that decisions would be driven by the fact that two young children “who chose not to be born in a war zone” were involved.

(Clip by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle)

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