Ali al-Abassi, or 'Captain Emad' was confronted by Four Corners and now faces an Australia visa investigation.
15 June 2012
Australia visa cancellation for alleged people smuggling kingpin
Australian immigration authorities have said that if the alleged human trafficker known as 'Captain Emad' returns to the country they will consider cancelling his Australia visa.
The government, who revealed Captain Emad to be an Iraqi national named Ali al-Abassi, has said 'apparent discrepancies' in Captain Emad's original application for asylum which provides them grounds to cancel his Australia visa.
"Investigations by federal authorities about the man indicate some apparent discrepancies in the information he provided to my department during his protection visa assessment process," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
Captain Emad, who entered Australian claiming to be a legitimate refugee, fled the country after being confronted at the Canberra supermarket where he was working by the investigative journalism TV programme Four Corners.
The programme accused Captain Emad of falsifying his claim for asylum before setting up a lucrative people smuggling operation which has contributed to the ongoing asylum seeker situation in recent months.
Australian immigration officials confirmed they had been investigating the man for two years but did not have sufficient evidence to detain him and as a result were forced to allow him to board a plane the day after the original Four Corners aired.
Mr Bowen, who was criticised for allowing the man to leave, said any consideration as to the cancellation of Captain Emad's visa would follow proper procedure; the allegations levelled during Four Corners would not be used to discriminate against Captain Emad and he would be given the opportunity to appeal any decision.
"The action to notify Ali al-Abassi of the intention to consider cancelling his visa is based on recent evidence gathered by the immigration department," said Mr Bowen.
"This is a legal process and the government will not prejudge its outcome. This only relates to Ali al-Abassi's visa status.
"Any criminal investigations are a matter for the Australian Federal Police."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy London.