"We are all in serious trouble", said civil-liberties lawyer Julian Burnside, as Australia expelled US activist Scott Parkin on unspecified grounds of "national security".
Parkin was flown out of Melbourne on 15 September. He was apparently pressured into letting legal challenges slide by the cops telling him that if he continued to contest the case they would not give him any more information on why they wanted to deport him, but would hold him longer in solitary imprisonment - and he would lose his right ever to leave the USA again.
They had already held him for five nights after getting his visa cancelled. Parkin was not charged with any offences. He has no criminal record in the USA, or anywhere. The FBI has said that they will not arrest or charge Parkin when he returns, nor even monitor him.
Parkin is active in the Houston Global Awareness Collective, a group originally set up "to raise awareness of issues of globalisation, the world economy, the environment, militarism, class and economic power". Initially the Collective focused on exposing the misdeeds of the IMF and the World Bank, but more recently it has turned to challenging Halliburton, the US-based multinational of which US vice-president Dick Cheney used to be boss.
Halliburton has been handed huge reconstruction and military-supply contracts following the US invasion of Iraq, and has had to repay the US government large amounts for overcharging..
Parkin was in Australia for a series of meetings and actions, notably the 30 August demonstration against the "Forbes 500" gathering of global fat-cats in Sydney. The Australian authorities have not claimed, let alone proved, that Parkin did, or planned to do, anything illegal.
Green party Senator Bob Brown commented: "I think the big question here is whether it is a political arrest and deportation. It seems to have nothing to do with terrorism. The Howard government will do whatever Washington asks of it and I am very concerned the request for [Parkin's] arrest came in the wake of information from Washington... because he's an absolute thorn in the side of Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and profit-making deals... in Iraq".
Following Parkin's arrest, protest were organised outside the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, the prime minister's offices in Sydney, and the offices in Brisbane of Halliburton's subsidiary KBR.