Another suspect caught in Australian terror raids |

Another suspect caught in Australian terror raids

SYDNEY, Australia – Australian police arrested an 18th suspect Thursday in an alleged terror plot that a lawmaker said involved a large quantity of explosives.A lawyer for eight of the suspects – Muslims from Sydney – accused authorities of holding them in “shameful” conditions and said prosecutors have produced no evidence of an imminent terror attack in the country.Police threw a security cordon around the Sydney courtroom where the men’s cases were being heard. The eight were expected to appear in court via video links.The latest suspect to be arrested was a 25-year-old man who was seized Thursday by counterterrorism officers in Sydney and charged with being a member of an unspecified terrorist organization, New South Wales state police said in a statement. The other 17 were arrested in coordinated pre-dawn raids on Tuesday in Sydney and the southern city of Melbourne.Ten of the suspects have been charged with being members of a terrorist organization and eight with conspiracy to plan a terrorist act. The charges all carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that the Sydney arm of the alleged Islamic terror network had stockpiled enough chemicals to make at least 15 large bombs.Also Thursday, lawmakers began debating Prime Minister John Howard’s proposed raft of tough new anti-terrorism laws and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the government would consider introducing laws to strip convicted terrorists of their Australian citizenship.The anti-terror legislation, which has met with opposition from legal and civil rights groups, would enable authorities to hold terror suspects without charge for two weeks and monitor them with electronic tracking devices for up to a year.The proposed laws also toughen jail terms for inciting race hatred or violence against the community, and have been criticized as an attack on free speech.Adam Houda, a lawyer for eight of the Sydney suspects, slammed the case against the men as weak and criticized an expected delay in prosecutors giving him more details about evidence.”These people are being treated differently, the conditions they are being held under are, I believe, shameful,” Houda said.—-Associated Press correspondents Mike Corder in Sydney and Rod McGuirk in Canberra contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado

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