Australian PM slams ‘stupid’ ex-MP for Iraq visit

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said former lawmaker Wyatt Roy has acted in direct defiance of Canberra’s warnings. The young former lawmaker was caught up in fighting in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull had some choice words on Friday for a former lawmaker who traveled to the Iraqi front lines, only to be caught up in crossfire. “It was very stupid,” Turnbull told a Melbourne radio station.

26-year-old Wyatt Roy initially impressed in 2010 when he was the youngest person ever elected to parliament in Canberra. He then became the country’s youngest cabinet member when he became assistant minister of innovation in 2015 before losing his seat in Australia’s 2016 general election.

Roy said he went on the unofficial trip to Iraqi Kurdistan to visit a camp for peshmerga fighters, in order to “see for myself the realities of Daesh’s brutality,” using the Arabic shorthand for the “Islamic State” (IS) terror organization.

On Thursday, Australia’s Special Broadcasting service aired footage provided by Roy which showed the ex-lawmaker crouching to avoid shots from IS fighters attacking a group of peshmerga near the town of Sinjar.

“Fifteen Daesh soldiers attacked the position that we were at for about half an hour,” Roy said from Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. He added that he had been unable to flee Sinjar because the IS militants had machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Turnbull: Wyatt was ‘very foolish’

“I’m disappointed in Wyatt, he shouldn’t have gone there. He knows that the official Australian government advice is ‘do not travel to Iraq’,” said Prime Minister Turnbull.

“He put himself at risk of physical harm and capture and he was acting in defiance of government advice. And I think his actions were very foolish,” he added.

When questioned by the radio presenter, he refused to speculate on whether Roy had broken Australian law, which classifies the Kurdistan Workers’ Party as a terrorist organization. Canberra has also banned its citizens from traveling to certain parts of Iraq.

The Liberal politician doubled down on his decision on Friday, writing a piece on his experience for The Australian newspaper.

“The advantage of doing an unofficial trip is the low profile – instead of getting whisked around on a whistle stop tour, you can really take the time to get out on the ground,” Roy wrote.

es/kl (AFP, AP)

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