New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern angrily accused Australia on Tuesday of shirking responsibility for a dual national with alleged links to the Islamic State militant group arrested in Turkey.
Ardern said the woman was a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen until Canberra authorities canceled her passport and left her situation to Wellington to deal with it.
In an unusually blunt message to her counterpart Scott Morrison, Ardern said Canberra was “wrong” to expect New Zealand to accept the woman she said had close ties with Australia.
“Any fair person would consider that person to be Australian and I agree,” Ardern said in a statement. “We believe Australia has given up its responsibilities.”
The 26-year-old woman was arrested this week by the Turkish authorities with her two children near the Syrian border and identified as a member of the Islamic State Group.
Local media reported that the woman had been brought for questioning in a Turkish court in southeastern Hatay province.
The Turkish Defense Ministry described the family as New Zealand nationals who tried to enter the country “illegally from Syria” and were “captured by our border guards”.
But Ardern said the woman had not lived in New Zealand since she was six and that it was “wrong for New Zealand to take responsibility for her”.
“(The woman) has lived in Australia since then, has her family in Australia and traveled from Australia to Syria on her Australian passport,” she added.
Morrison defended his administration’s decision as in “Australia’s National Security Interests”.
“We don’t want terrorists who have fought with terrorist organizations to enjoy citizenship privileges. I think they lose as soon as they become enemies of our country,” he said during a press conference in Canberra.
But Morrison added that he would continue to speak to Ardern, saying, “There is still a lot more unknown about this case and where it is and where it might go next.”
Ardern also urged Australia to consider the welfare of the woman’s children.
“These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own,” she said.
“Coming to New Zealand where they have no immediate family would not be in their best interests. We know that young children thrive best when they are surrounded by people who love them.”
Ardern said New Zealand had also looked into the Turkish authorities on the matter.
Wellington previously criticized Australia for deporting people across the Tasman Sea who have little connections to the land.
Since 2014, around 3,000 New Zealanders in Australia have canceled their visas “for reasons of character” – which does not always require a criminal conviction.
Ardern has pointed out that many of the deportees spent most of their lives in Australia and described the problem as “corrosive” to neighbors’ relationships.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)