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Leaders discuss trans-Tasman 'blue' over fate of stranded woman


The leaders of Australia and New Zealand have held a “constructive” phone call to discuss the plight of a woman detained by Turkey and causing the latest flare-up in an increasingly fractious relationship.

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Jacinda Ardern scolded Scott Morrison on Tuesday for stripping citizenship from the dual national woman, reported by the ABC as Suhayra Aden, under anti-terrorism laws.

Aden was born in New Zealand and travelled to Australia to live at the age of six, settling in Melbourne.

In 2014, she departed Australia to live in Syria under Islamic State, which saw Australia wash its hands of her.

That’s left New Zealand in the position of having to provide assistance to the woman, who was on an Interpol watch list, after she was detained on the Turkey-Syria border by Turkish officials.

The woman has two small children, which Ardern says is at the forefront of her mind.

“We have a situation where someone is now detained with two small children,” Ardern said.

“If the shoe were on the other foot, we would take responsibility. That would be the right thing to do. And I ask of Australia that they do the same.”

Morrison rebutted Ardern yesterday, saying he was acting in Australia’s national interest.

On Tuesday night, the pair held an emergency phone call which Ardern’s spokesman described as “constructive”.

“Regardless of the steps taken in this case to date, both NZ and Australia acknowledge that this case now has a number of complexities,” he said.

“We are working through those issues in the spirit of our relationship.”

While Morrison suggested the woman had “engaged in terrorist activities”, a separate picture of her plight suggests otherwise.

ABC reporter Dylan Welch, speaking to Radio NZ, said Aden was “a sorry young woman”.

“She wasn’t out of her teen years when she left Australia to go there,” he said.

“She ended up being married to two men, both of whom died. She had three kids, one of those children, the middle one died due to pneumonia.”

Welch deferred on whether she was guilty of subscribing to Islamic State’s radical anti-West doctrine.

“It’s a difficult question when people label someone a terrorist because they lived under an organisation described as a terrorist organisation,” he said.

“There’s no suggestion that she or any of the Australian women there ever fought for Islamic State.

“(Some women in her position) don’t intend to join Islamic State … they were lured there or tricked there. Some were lying and some were not.”

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