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ABC News
ABC News
Jano Gibson and staff

Judge orders extradition of alleged Islamic State terrorist Neil Prakash from Darwin to Melbourne

A Darwin court has been told alleged Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash has had his Australian citizenship reinstated, as a judge approved his extradition from Darwin to Melbourne to face terrorism-related charges.

Mr Prakash, 31, was extradited overnight from Türkiye, formerly Turkey, and appeared before the Darwin Local Court via videolink from a police station this morning.

He was wearing a white T-shirt and remained seated with his hands behind his back throughout the proceedings, with a Northern Territory police officer by his side and a masked police officer in the background.

Prosecutor Naomi Low asked Chief Judge Elizabeth Morris to approve Mr Prakash's extradition to Melbourne to face six terrorism-related charges.

The court heard he was accused of engaging in hostile activity in a foreign state, being a member of the Islamic State terrorist group, entering a foreign country to engage in hostile activities and committing a terrorist act. 

He is also accused of providing support to the Islamic State terrorist group and entering a prohibited area in Syria.

The charges relate to a period between 2014 and 2016.

The chief judge told the court that before approving his extradition, she had to be sure that the man appearing via videolink was Mr Prakash.

When she asked him to confirm his identity, he said nothing and stared towards the ground.

The judge then asked a Victoria Police officer attached to the Joint Counter Terrorism Team to confirm Mr Prakash's identity.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Gibney told the court he had been involved in the investigation for a year.

"Neil Christopher Prakash, as he is called in Australia, is sitting beside me," he said via videolink from the police station.

The officer said Australian officials had met with Mr Prakash in a Turkish detention centre in recent weeks, where he was told that his Australian citizenship had been reinstated.

His citizenship was stripped from him in 2018.

But it caused a stoush with Fiji where immigration authorities denied claims by the then-Immigration minister Peter Dutton that Mr Prakash had Fijian citizenship through his father. That raised concerns about whether he had been illegally rendered stateless.

The officer said Mr Prakash also had distinctive scars and a tattoo on his chest with the name of a family member.

He said a passport photo held by Australian Border Force had been used to confirm Mr Prakash's identity.

Based on the officer's confirmation, the judge approved his extradition to Melbourne by December 9 to face the Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

Mr Prakash will remain in custody in the Northern Territory until his extradition.

The court was told police needed up to a week to arrange his transportation to mitigate safety concerns for Mr Prakash and the officers involved in his relocation.

Authorities say there is no threat to the community

In a statement issued this morning, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said an investigation began in 2016 when Mr Prakash allegedly travelled to Syria to fight with Islamic State militants.

"The AFP will allege in court that the man committed a range of serious terrorism offences," the agency said in a statement.

"Given the matter is now before the court, no further comment will be made."

The AFP said there was no threat to the Australian community.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said Australian authorities were "relentless" in pursuing alleged criminals overseas.

"We do have significant players that are offshore that do cause us harm," he said.

"We can actually use our partnerships and use our footprint around the world to track these people down and bring them back here to justice."

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