Appeal for release of Irishman in Australia
The family of a young Irishman who was detained in error by armed police in Perth are appealing for the Australian government to release him.
Bernard Lee (26), who is originally from Greystones, Co Wicklow, has been living and working legally in Western Australia for the past seven years.
However, on Monday evening he was arrested by armed police and immigration officers at the home he shares with his partner in Highgate, Perth.
Authorities claimed that he had been issued a letter refusing his application for a resident's visa and cancelling his current business visa, and that he was in breach of the 20-day period to leave the country. Bernard Lee had recently applied for an employer-sponsored residents' visa before his detention.
Neither Mr Lee nor his Australian lawyer dealing with the case on his behalf had received such a letter. He was taken away by armed police to a detention centre run by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), which is located 90km northeast of Perth, where he has since been detained.
Officers for the DIBP have admitted to Mr Lee's family they made a mistake and that no such letter was ever issued to Bernard or his lawyer. However, they have not committed to any intention of releasing him.
The Wicklow man's family have said that an appeal process against the wrongful detention could take weeks or months, and are pleading with Australian officials to release him.
"We have been advised that the Australian Immigration authorities regularly detain people in this facility for months without reason while they process paperwork," said his brother Robert.