Oliver Bridgeman's parents 'devastated' by setback
THE parents of Toowoomba teenager Oliver Bridgeman were "devastated" that the Australian Government had cancelled their son's passport, the young man's lawyer claimed.
Mr Bridgeman has been in war-torn Syria since leaving Australia via a Bali sojourn last year.
Though speculation was rife in the community that he had gone to Syria to join the fight, he vehemently denied that and claimed he was working for a humanitarian group in the Middle East trouble spot.
Brisbane-based human rights and criminal lawyer Alex Jones of Bosscher Lawyers has been representing Mr Bridgeman and claimed his client just wanted to come home to Australia.
Mr Jones confirmed his client's parents in Toowoomba had been served with papers confirming the cancellation of their son's passport, effectively leaving the 19-year-old in international limbo.
Mr Jones said Mr and Mrs Bridgeman chose not to speak with media but he was happy to convey their feelings on the matter and this latest setback.
"They are devastated at what has happened," he said.
"They feel they have lost all faith in the relevant authority (DFAT) we have been dealing with.
"He (Oliver Bridgeman) wants to come home, they (Australian Government authorities) know he wants to come home, they have been fully involved in the conversation and have full knowledge."
Mr Jones said the authorities had been told that if they wanted to speak with Oliver Bridgeman he would be available at the airport upon his return to Australia.
Mr Jones told The Chronicle that the papers handed to his client's parents said if Oliver Bridgeman continued to hold onto to his Australian passport he "would be likely to engage in conduct that might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country".
The decision to cancel his passport left Mr Bridgeman with no way of returning to Australia.
Mr Jones said his client had been told to surrender his passport to the nearest diplomatic mission or consular post - that being in Turkey.
Yet, should he attempt to cross into Turkey on a cancelled passport, he could face arrest and a term in prison.
Mr Jones reiterated that there was no evidence Mr Bridgeman had engaged in any unlawful acts while in Syria.
For his part, after receiving news that his passport had been cancelled, Mr Bridgeman posted on his Facebook page: "No matter what the Australian government say or do, they know that I'm here to help humanity and especialy (sic) the people of Syria".
Mr Jones said the Australian Government had said it would "consider" issuing him with a "limited validity travel document" to come home.
Public support for the teenager was growing as his plight gained wider publicity, he said.
Bosscher Lawyers is expected to file an appeal against the decision to cancel Mr Bridgeman's passport on Monday.