Who is Australian IS recruit Neil Prakash?

Neil Prakash has been denied release in Turkey Source: AAP

Self-admitted IS member Neil Prakash has been making international headlines.

Neil Prakash, the Australian-born Islamic State recruit, will remain in a Turkish prison after being denied bail by a local court.

The Kilis Criminal Court rejected a request for Mr Prakash's release and postponed his trial on domestic terror charges until December.

"The period of time he has been incarcerated is really long so we requested his release, but it was denied. We will file an appeal to the courts,” Mr Prakash’s Turkish court-appointed lawyer Resat Davran said.

It is the latest development in a saga which has made international headlines over the past five years.

What is he alleged to have done?

Mr Prakash, who was born in Melbourne in 1991, is said to have left Australia for Syria to join IS in 2013. It came a year after he reportedly converted from Buddism to Islam.

An arrest warrant was issued in 2015 as a member of a terrorist organisation and for incursions into a foreign state with the intention of engaging in hostile activities.

The Australian government also alleges Mr Prakash worked for IS as a senior recruiter, claims the 27-year-old denies. He maintains he was a regular solider and has never had anything to do with the group in Australia.

The former rapper has appeared in numerous IS propaganda videos and authorities suspect he was linked to a failed Melbourne terror plot to behead a police officer on Anzac Day 2015.

Mr Prakash also publicly praised Numan Haider after the 18-year-old stabbed two police officers outside Melbourne’s Endeavour Hills police station in 2014.

Neil Prakash in an IS video
Neil Prakash in an IS video

Where is he now?

Mr Prakash has been in Turkish custody since 2016, where he faces charges of belonging to a terror organisation.

If convicted, Mr Prakash’s Turkish lawyer said his client could serve up to 15 years in prison.

"In the Turkish criminal code [the mandatory sentence for] membership in a terrorist organisation is between five and ten years. But there's a possibility for that sentence to be increased by half,” Mr Davran said.

But the sentence could be reduced if Mr Prakash provides "serious information" on the inner workings of IS, according to Mr Davran.

"If he (Prakash) really provides serious information about IS, depending on the situation, he could receive a lesser sentence.”

Mr Prakash has been detained in a maximum security prison in the city of Gaziantep throughout the duration of his trial, which has been dogged with various interruptions and technical hitches.

He was arrested in Turkey attempting to enter the country from Syria with false documents.

Mr Prakash claims to have left Syria for Turkey because he feared for his life.

An Australian government spokesman said Mr Prakash’s arrest was the result of collaboration between Australia and Turkey.

Could he return to Australia?

In July, Turkey rejected Australia’s request to extradite Mr Prakash to face terror charges in Australia.

Then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowed to continue trying to bring Mr Prakash back to Australia to face charges.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has said he would be happy to see Mr Prakash remain in Turkey to "rot in jail”.

Neil Prakash
Pictured (clockwise): Neil Prakash, former PM Malcolm Turnbull, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Professor Greg Barton, a counter-terrorism expert from Deakin University, told SBS News in May he expects Mr Prakash to evade justice in Australia for the foreseeable future.

“Because he was caught on [their] border Turkey can reasonably say that Turkish law comes first, put him away in a Turkish jail, then possibly, he disappears at some point,” Professor Barton said.

“I’d be surprised if he comes back to Australia anytime soon, if at all.”

Mr Prakash, who had his Australian passport is cancelled in 2014, faces a potential life sentence if convicted in Australia of terrorism offences.

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