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Australian Muslim activists lose free speech case
by Rod McGuirk
Australia's highest court on Wednesday narrowly rejected the case of two Muslim activists who argued they had a constitutional free-speech right to send offensive letters to families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Iranian-born Man Horan Monis, a Sydney cleric also known as Sheik Haron, was charged with 12 counts of using a postal service in an offensive way and one count of using a postal service in a harassing way over three years until 2009. Amirah Droudis was charged with aiding and abetting the offences. They face potential maximum prison sentences of 26 years and 16 years respectively if convicted.
The six judges of the High Court split on whether the charges were compatible with Australians' right to free speech. When the nation's highest court is tied, an appeal is dismissed and the lower court decision stands.
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