It will be a bitter Christmas for Aussies who are locked up overseas in appalling jails across the globe. See who is still behind bars.
It will be a bitter Christmas for Aussies who are locked up overseas in appalling jails across the globe. See who is still behind bars.

Banged up abroad: Aussies in jail at Christmas

It will be a bitter Christmas for Aussies who are banged up abroad in appalling jails across the globe on permanent lockdown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, will be celebrating at home with her

family following her release from an Iranian prison on spying charges.

Ms Moore-Gilbert was one of Tehran's highest profile prisoners from the time she was apprehended at Tehran airport in 2018 as she was about to return home from an academic conference.

Her release was part of an international prisoner swap where three Iranian men were freed from jail in Thailand, where they were held over their part in a failed 2012 bombing plot.

Two other high profile Australian women were also released from foreign prisons during the year.

 

Linklater Dustin is one of the many Aussies who remains behind bars in an overseas jail this Christmas. Picture: Supplied
Linklater Dustin is one of the many Aussies who remains behind bars in an overseas jail this Christmas. Picture: Supplied

 

In July, Byron Bay mother of two Sara Connor, 49, walked free after serving almost four years Bali's Kerobokan jail.

In 2016, Connor and her British boyfriend David Taylor were charged with killing Balinese police officer Wayan Sudarsa on Kuta Beach.

Throughout her trial, Connor maintained her innocence claiming that she was trying to separate the two men after a fight broke out between them over her missing handbag.

In April, convicted Aussie drug trafficker Cassie Sainsbury was released from the Colombian prison to serve the remainder of her six-year sentence on parole in Bogota. Colombian authorities said the exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and prison overcrowding prompted her release. Sainsbury, 25 of Adelaide, was jailed for smuggling 5.8kg of cocaine through Bogota's El Dorado airport in her headphones in April 2017.

April was a high point for Melbourne man David Van Iersel who was let out of Bali's Kerobokan jail having spent nine months in the horror prison for taking cocaine. His co-accused William Cabantog was released in July.

The two former nightclub workers were arrested during a police raid at the Lost City Club in the island's trendy Canggu area with 1.12 grams of cocaine in the pocket of Cabantog's jeans.

These are some of the lucky few who have managed to escape their foreign nightmare. Scores of other Australian citizens remain incarcerated in diabolical cells or shackled in shocking hellholes lockup across the world.

 

Brendon Johnsson is spending another Christmas behind bars in Bali. Picture: AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati
Brendon Johnsson is spending another Christmas behind bars in Bali. Picture: AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati

 

NEW ZEALAND

BRENTON TARRANT

In August, the 30-year-old Grafton man and white supremacist was sentenced for massacring 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March, 2019.

He was given life in jail without parole and is the first person in New Zealand's judicial history to receive the sentence.

Tarrant, 30, admitted to the murder of 51 people, the attempted murder of a further 40 people as well as one charge of terrorism.

Tarrant opened fire on worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque and fewer than 30 seconds later he returned to his car to retrieve another weapon then he returned to the mosque to resume his murderous attack. The massacre was broadcast on social media through a headcam that he was wearing.

 

 

 

TURKEY

ZEHRA DUMAN

Australia's first jihadi bride and mother of two was sentenced to three years prison in Turkey in September this year. The 27-year-old Melbourne woman and ISIS widow was found guilty of being a member of the outlaw terror group ISIS. She was stripped of her Australian citizenship in 2019 but since April she has been fighting in the High Court to have her national status reinstated. Duman had been held in the Syrian Kurdish run al-Hawl refugee camp with 67 Australian jihadi brides and their children until she fled to Turkey and was arrested.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

JULIAN ASSANGE

On January 4, a British judge is expected to rule on whether Assange will be extradited to the United States where the publisher has been indicted on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer hacking. Assange published secret military documents on his WikiLeaks website more than a decade ago, including the horrific footage known as 'Collateral Murder' where US soldiers opened fire and laughed at some of the casualties among a group of civilians in Baghdad.

In April 2019, the WikiLeaks founder went from self-imposed imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he had sought asylum for seven years, to London's Belmarsh Prison to serve a 50-week sentence for breaching bail condition.

He is fighting extradition to the US, which could land him with a jail term of 175 years. The 48-year-old is believed to be suffering from bad mental and physical health despite international support to have him freed.

 

 

 

EGYPT

WALED YOUSSEF

The Sydney resident was arrested in January while on a family holiday in Cairo. Mr Youssef, who has a cement rendering company, holds dual Australian and Egyptian nationality. He is held in the squalid Tora Prison where Australian journalist Peter Greste spent 400 days. Egyptian authorities claim that Mr Youssef, 45, has affiliation with a banned political group. His lawyer claims that he 'liked' a social media comment from an Egyptian presidential candidate in 2012. An early court appeal against his detention in January was rejected and his incarceration has been extended six times without any justification. Mr Youssef migrated to Australia two decades ago.

 

Waled Youssef.
Waled Youssef.

 

UNITED STATES

LISA CUNNINGHAM

The trial of 46-year-old former Adelaide woman, accused of the first degree murder of her seven-year-old step daughter, Sanaa in February 2017, has been delayed for two-years. As the coronavirus rages throughout the nation, the courts have slowed so Cunningham may not stand trial until 2022. With her American husband, former armed robbery Detective Germayne, 41, Cunningham is also charged with neglect and abuse of Sanaa who suffered acute schizophrenia. Prosecutors claim that Sanaa died from a sepsis infection after injuries to her head and foot in February 2017. She had also been heavily restrained before her death, which the defendants insist was for her own safety and that of her siblings. Cunningham is in prison in Phoenix, Arizona and could face the death penalty if she is found guilty.

 

Lisa Cunningham is in jail in Phoenix, Arizona, for the murder of her young stepdaughter.
Lisa Cunningham is in jail in Phoenix, Arizona, for the murder of her young stepdaughter.

 

VIETNAM

VAN KHAM CHAU

The retired Sydney baker was sentenced to 12 years prison having been found guilty of terrorism activities. The 71-year-old was arrested in January 2019 during a trip to the country from which he left in a boat in 1982. Mr Chau, an Australian citizen, is a member of the human rights group Viet Tan, an organisation that the Vietnamese government has designated as a terror group. Mr Chau is held in the Thu Duc prison, which is a three-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City and human rights groups believe his trial was a sham. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has remained silent about Mr Chau saying only that it has extended 'consular services' to him.

 

Van Kham Chau was sentenced to 12 years prison, found guilty of terrorism. Picture: AP
Van Kham Chau was sentenced to 12 years prison, found guilty of terrorism. Picture: AP

 

CHINA

YANG HENJUN

Writer Yang Henjun was arrested in Guangzhou in January 2019 and detained in Beijing for 20 months before being charged with spying. Critics of the Chinese regimen believe the 55-year-old writer has been targeted over his criticism of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping. As a high-profile political prisoner, the charges prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to weigh in saying that the espionage allegations against Mr Yang, 55, were "absolutely untrue." The case remains a flashpoint of escalating tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

Yang Henjun’s case is a source of tension between Australia and China.
Yang Henjun’s case is a source of tension between Australia and China.

KARM GILESPIE

The 56-year-old actor turned business coach was handed the death penalty in June this year for attempting to smuggle 7.5kg of methamphetamine across China in 2013. Mr Gilespie's arrest was not known until the Chinese authorities announced his death sentence - a move that some believe was a political play with the Australian being used as leverage against Canberra. Mr Gilespie's friends and family were baffled by his sudden 2013 disappearance only to be more shocked by the Chinese claim that he smuggled narcotics. Mr Gilespie stood trail in 2014 and waited in detention until his judgment came out this year. China invoking the death sentence six years after the trial has been attributed to the souring diplomatic relations between the two countries.

 

Victorian man Karm Gilespie is facing the death penalty in China.
Victorian man Karm Gilespie is facing the death penalty in China.

 

FIJI

JOHN NIKOLIC

In June former Melbourne horse trainer John Nikolic launched a surprise appeal against his drug smuggling conviction and 23-year jail sentence in Fiji. In 2018 Nikolic and his wife Yvette were arrested on their boat Shenanigans, charged with smuggling 12.9kg of cocaine and possessing methamphetamine and cocaine tablets worth more than $20 million. Yvette was found not guilty of the charges in Suva High Court and is now believed to be living in the Northern Territory outback. John was sentenced to 23 years, with a non-parole period of 18 years. He is appealing the result alleging that his Fiji defence team was incompetent and whether evidence provided by Fiji Police chief scientific officer should have been accepted.

 

John Nikolic. Picture: Gary Ramage
John Nikolic. Picture: Gary Ramage

 

JOSEPH ABOURIZK

Former Sydney tow truck driver and dad Joseph Abourizk was sentenced to a 14-year jail term in 2016 after he and a Fijian co-accused were discovered with nearly 50 kilograms of cocaine hidden in suitcases at a marina in Lautoka. Abourizk was on holiday in Fiji with his wife Karla who returned to Australia one day before his arrest.

Last year, the 34-year-old was shocked when his appeal saw his sentence almost doubled from 14 years to 25 years, which is understood to be the longest prison term every handed down for narcotics crime in Fiji.

 

Former truckie Joseph Abourizk is in a Fiji jail. Picture: Facebook
Former truckie Joseph Abourizk is in a Fiji jail. Picture: Facebook

 

THAILAND

JAKE MASTROIANNI

The one-time popular Melbourne DJ, Mastroianni was busted with hundreds of ecstasy pills in the Thai resort town of Pattaya in 2014. A further 61 pills where uncovered at his Thai girlfriend's home. The DJ was charged with acting as a criminal organisation with co-accused Brit Lance Whitmore. The Aussie was sentenced to two life terms in the notorious Bang Kwan prison in Bangkok.

 

Jake Mastroianni, centre, is in a Thai jail serving two life sentences for drug-related crimes. Picture: Facebook
Jake Mastroianni, centre, is in a Thai jail serving two life sentences for drug-related crimes. Picture: Facebook

 

STEVEN HOVI, JAMIE HANSOM and TIHOMER STOJIC

Heavily armed Thai police raided a house in the beachside resort town of Pattaya late last year and arrested Australians Jamie Hansom, 47, and Steve Hovi, 59.

Police allegedly seized more than a kilogram of crystal meth, six mobile phones, 12 bank cards and a dozen blocks of cash. Police believe the 'drug cartel' haul is linked to the Hells Angels and Comanchero bikie gangs who are accused of selling narcotics in the region. The two men could face the death penalty if found guilty. A third Australian man, Tihomer Stojic, 48, was arrested shortly after the Pattaya raid and also charged with criminal actions linked to an international drug trafficking syndicate.

ROBERT HALLIWELL

Halliwell was arrested with fellow addict Holly Deane-Johns in 2000 attempting to post a package of heroin to Australia, Thai police later found a further 110 grams of heroin in Halliwell's apartment. The former Cronulla resident and builder - who jumped bail on drug charges in Australia and fled to Thailand in the 1980s - was sentenced to 31 years jail and was considered lucky to escape the death penalty.

Deane-Johns transferred to a prison in Australia in 2003.

 

Robert Halliwell, considered lucky to have escaped the death penalty, is in a Thai jail.
Robert Halliwell, considered lucky to have escaped the death penalty, is in a Thai jail.

 

THE PHILIPPINES

PETER SCULLY

The depraved paedo and one of the world's most reviled child rapists and traffickers remains under lock and key for the most horrifying child sexual abuse and pornography offences ever detailed.

The 58-year-old former Melbourne businessman absconded from Australia in 2011 where he was facing fraud charges but he was detained in Mindanao in 2015 and charged in 2018. Now serving life in prison, Scully's crimes were so appalling that the authorities in the Philippines even considered reinstating the death penalty.

 

 

 

MAURITIUS

SUSAN DALZIEL

An Australian schoolteacher - who was 52 at the time - received a 28-year sentence for smuggling heroin worth $1.3 million into Mauritius in 2005. She will be 80 years old when she is freed. Dalziel was arrested on arrival from Nairobi in November 2005 with almost 4kg of heroin packed into her luggage. She had pleaded not guilty to drug peddling but was found guilty of trafficking, maintaining that she was used as a decoy for the real smugglers. She remains in prison on the island off the coast of Africa.

 

 

 

INDONESIA

DAVEY CHRISTIAN

In September Shane Christian Davey, 46 of Subiaco, was arrested after Bali police swarmed his house and allegedly found 0.19 grams of cannabis, and 0.42 grams of a purple powder police believe to be ecstasy. He faces a maximum penalty of 12 years prison and is awaiting trial in Bali.

AARON COYLE

Aaron Wayne Coyle, 44, from the West Australian coastal town of Dunsborough, faces more a dozen years in Bali's infamous Kerobokan prison after being accused of involvement in a local narcotics gang. Police allegedly found more than one gram of crystal methamphetamine in the search of his villa and he has been accused of being a drug courier in the Kuta area. Police claim that Mr Coyle admitted that he had delivered drugs in the area, twice, for which he was paid $20. If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of 12 years. A date for his trial has not yet been set.

 

Aaron Wayne Coyle. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Aaron Wayne Coyle. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

 

TRAVIS MCLEOD

Travis Mcleod, 49 of Fremantle, WA, was detained over a meth allegation and a subsequent police search of his villa allegedly uncovered 0.8 grams of 'shabu shabu' - as it is known locally. Police also seized five jerry cans of ethanol, seven bottles of assorted chemicals, a dozen baking sheets, three Tupperware containers of green powdered kratom - a hallucinogenic leaf from a local plant - and multiple drug processing tools and paraphernalia, including a bong. While Kratom is legal in Indonesia, it is not legal in Australia - where online suppliers sell it to vulnerable people claiming it treats pain. Mcleod was charged with Article 112 of Indonesian narcotics law regarding methamphetamine, which two Indonesians claim he ordered them to purchase. He may face 12 years in jail and a fine of $775,000. He is awaiting trial.

 

Travis James McLeod. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Travis James McLeod. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

 

DUSTIN LINKLATER

The 40-year-old restaurant worker from Darwin's northern suburbs, was found guilty of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in the south Java region of Banguwangi in August last year. Linklater was jailed for seven years for sexually abusing the boy orally as many as five times and paying the minor IDR100,000 ($10). Linklater met the boy in a waterpark and lured him to his nearby home, where the abuse took place.

 

Dustin Linklater, left, is spending another Christmas in jail for horrific sex crimes. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro
Dustin Linklater, left, is spending another Christmas in jail for horrific sex crimes. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro

 

ROBERT ELLIS

Convicted paedophile Robert Ellis, 74, expects to die in Bali's Kerobokan jail despite occasionally having his 15-year sentenced reduced for good behaviour. In 2016 Ellis was found guilty of the grooming and sexual abuse of 11 girls aged between seven and 17 in regional Bali in 2014 and 2015. At his trial, he maintained that he had done nothing wrong and that he had paid the child victims generously. Ellis, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, has always denied he was a paedophile.

 

Convicted paedophile Robert Ellis tested positive for COVID-19 in a Bali jail. Picture: AAP
Convicted paedophile Robert Ellis tested positive for COVID-19 in a Bali jail. Picture: AAP

 

MICHAEL SACATIDES

Former Sydney kickboxing instructor is heading into his 11th year in the Balinese prison system. He was arrested at Denpasar Airport in October 2010 after flying in from Bangkok with 1.7kg of meth concealed in his suitcase. Sacatides, who is now 52, was delivered an 18-year sentence in a shock decision in 2011 - it was two years longer than that requested by the prosecution. Sacatides is in the narcotics jail in rural Bangli with one of the remaining Bali Nine members - Scott Rush. He is well known for his disciplined kickboxing training regimen and he runs exercises classes for other inmates.

BRENDON JOHNSSON

The former Sunshine Coast resident will be spending his third Christmas inside Kerobokan prison, after his August 2018 arrest and sentencing earlier this year. The 45-year-old could have faced the death penalty but instead was sentenced to five years and four months for providing and possessing cocaine, after his legal defence argued he had been battling drug addiction since his teenage years. Johnsson and his girlfriend were caught with 11.6 grams of cocaine - worth about $3,000 divided into 13 plastic packets during a police raid at their Kuta home. Police claimed Johnsson has been taking and selling narcotics in Bali for five years. However, Johnsson's status as a long-time drug addict led to the lenient correction.

MEMBERS OF THE 'BALI NINE'

Five members of the Bali Nine remain in prison, following the 2018 release of Renee Lawrence and cancer death of Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, the 2015 executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Exactly a year ago 35-year-old Scott Rush lodged another appeal to his life sentence - a risky strategy, given an earlier attempt resulted in his life sentence being upgraded to a death sentence, then later changed back. Rush has asked for his life sentence to be commuted to 20 years, however, Indonesian authorities remain silent.

He is serving his time in Bali's rural Bangli prison, having requested a transfer from Kerobokan in 2014 to escape the drug culture.

Fellow Bali Nine members Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen remain in Kerobokan, where they are known as model prisoners while Martin Stephens is serving his life sentence in Malang prison, East Java. He is married to a Javanese woman Christine Puspayanti. Michael Czugaj is in Madiun prison, also in East Java. He was found by the prison authorities to be badly addicted to meth and was moved to the East Java jail to extract him from the web of narcotics that are readily available in Kerobokan.

Originally published as Banged up abroad: Aussies in jail at Christmas