Usman Khawaja's brother held for increasing tensions with fake terror plot
The elder brother of Australia's Pakistani-origin cricket star Usman Khawaja was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly framing a Sri Lankan student over a fake terror plot that threatened to assassinate top Australian politicians, police said.
Usman, 31, is one of Australia's leading batsmen. He is set to play in the test series against India, from Thursday.
In August, police charged Sri Lankan student Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen in Sydney over an alleged plan in a notebook which was found in an office in the same building as the library of the University of New South Wales earlier this year.
Khawaja, who worked in the same department as Nizamdeen, 25, had been partly motivated by a "personal grievance" over a woman, Australian police said.
The notebook contained plans to kill the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, his then-deputy Julie Bishop and former speaker Bronwyn Bishop, as well as a blueprint to target train stations and Sydney landmarks such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
The Sri Lankan PhD student had claimed that that he was framed by a rival at the University of New South Wales where he worked.
Nizamdeen endured more than four weeks in solitary confinement after he was arrested on terrorism charges.
Police accused him of plotting the attacks in his notebook.
However he was released in October after police failed to connect his handwriting to the writing in the notebook.
Police in Australia have charged Khawaja with forgery and an attempt to pervert justice.
On Tuesday, police alleged Nizamdeen had been "set up in a planned and calculated manner" by Khawaja.
When he appeared in court this afternoon, he did not say anything but listened attentively from the dock, dressed in a white open-necked shirt, Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
He was granted bail on condition that he surrenders his passport, does not go within 100 metres of the University of New South Wales and does not contact colleagues in the university IT department, it said.
He is also required to post a surety of 50,000 dollars in cash.
Nizamdeen, who has returned to Sri Lanka, has indicated he plans to seek compensation from authorities for his wrongful detention.
On Tuesday, New South Wales police expressed "regret" for Nizamdeen's experience.
"We feel very sorry for him and what has happened to him," Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said.
Khawaja was arrested on Tuesday in suburban Sydney. Police had questioned him over the notebook last month.
Meanwhile, speaking at Adelaide Oval, Usman said the arrest of his brother was a matter for police.
"Out of respect for the process it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment," the cricketer said.
"I just ask for you to please respect my privacy and my family's privacy at this time," Usman said.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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