The leaders of New Zealand and Australia were engaged in a bitter fight Tuesday over which country will inherit an alleged Islamic State terrorist who at one point held citizenship in both nations.
The 26-year-old woman and two children were detained when they tried to illegally cross from Syria into Turkey, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Monday. The woman was identified only by her initials, S.A.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been arguing with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison over which country should take responsibility for the woman if she’s deported from Turkey. The two were due to speak again on the matter Tuesday evening.
The woman was a dual citizen of both Australia and New Zealand, but Australia has stripped her of her citizenship under antiterrorism laws.
Ardern said the woman had lived in Australia for most of her life and had traveled to Syria on her Australian passport.
“We believe Australia has abdicated its responsibilities in relation to this person and I have personally made that point to Prime Minister Morrison,” Ardern said in an unusually blunt statement.
“It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was 6.”
But Morrison said he was simply doing his job by protecting Australia’s interests.
“We do not want to see terrorists who fought with terrorism organizations enjoying privileges of citizenship, which I think they forfeit the second they engage as an enemy of our country,” Morrison said. “And I think Australians would agree with that.”