Tuesday 21 January 2020

€5,000 bill to bring Lisa Smith back from Turkey

Soldiers sent on mission to fly Isil suspect home

Lisa Smith denies Isil-related charges. Photo: Collins Courts
Lisa Smith denies Isil-related charges. Photo: Collins Courts
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The Department of Foreign Affairs spent just over €5,000 dispatching a team of officials and three members of the Irish Defence Forces to bring Lisa Smith and her child back to Ireland from Turkey.

The costs covered travel and accommodation for the team who embarked on the three-day trip in late November to repatriate Ms Smith and her daughter, who were staying in a camp close to Syria's border with Turkey.

Ms Smith (37) was charged on her return with terror offences relating to joining Isil, which she denies. She was granted bail following a brief court appearance last Wednesday, in which her defence team asked that the case against her be dropped.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has released limited details about the cost of the repatriation operation under the Freedom of Information Act.

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The department said the combined costs came to 31,842.72 Turkish Lira (€5,028).

A civil servant and the three army personnel embarked on the trip on November 29, flying from Dublin to Istanbul at a cost of €989. The cost of four rooms in an airport hotel in Istanbul where they stayed that night came to €522 and €651 the following night, when they were joined by a second Irish official who is based in Ankara.

A team of seven people, including Ms Smith and her child, travelled on a commercial flight back to Dublin on December 1, with the tickets costing €2,093. Ms Smith and the team of officials had been booked on a flight on November 30, but Turkish officials changed the flight to the following morning, at no extra cost, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The overall bill also included internal flights in Turkey, and a flight from Dublin to Istanbul for an Irish diplomat based there, who accompanied the team home.

The operation was conducted in-house, and the department did not seek any external consultancy or security services.

Last Wednesday, Ms Smith asked prosecutors to review the evidence against her and "discontinue" the charge.

A lawyer for the ex-defence forces member made the request as she appeared in court for the first time since her release from custody.

Judge John Hughes said it was a matter for DPP and granted prosecutors more time to prepare their case. He remanded Ms Smith on continuing bail, to appear in Dublin District Court again in March for the service of a book of evidence.

Ms Smith is charged with membership of a terrorist group outside the State between October 28, 2015 and December 1, last year.

The mother-of-one, who left Ireland and married after converting to Islam, was returned here from Turkey last month after spending time in a Syrian refugee camp.

Sunday Independent

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