Monday, January 21, 2019

Australian Oliver Bridgeman stranded in Syria says cancelled passport is a 'blessing in disguise'

An Australian man claiming to be a humanitarian worker in war-torn Syria has described the cancellation of his Australian passport in 2016 as a "blessing in disguise", while also revealing he is now married.

Oliver Bridgeman travelled to the region nearly four years ago but has been stuck there since early 2016, when Australian authorities cancelled his passport and issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of going to Syria with the plan to engage in "hostile activities".
In an interview with American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem on Facebook on Monday morning, Mr Bridgeman said the termination of his passport allowed him to help charities in "other ways", which he believed was "more beneficial".

"It was a blessing in disguise," Mr Bridgeman said in the video.

Mr Bridgeman, who is now married, said he had been reluctant to leave Syria but knew he had to in order to "clear my name" and was considering starting an NGO or charity in Australia, or returning to the Middle East supported by aid or sponsorships.

"But my passport was cancelled — and after that, it caused a bit of issues with the NGOs — the charities I was working with — who didn't have to, but felt if you weren't in front of the camera anymore, we don't want any issues," he said in the video.

"It made me put down my head a bit more and help in other ways, which I believe is more beneficial actually to what I was doing before — I went back to learn new skills."
"I think since then, it's the best thing that's happened to me so far in Syria."
Mr Bridgeman, who used to live at Toowoomba, has vehemently denied having joined a terror organisation.

The ABC has previously reported, just prior to the arrest warrant, Mr Bridgeman's parents and their lawyer Alex Jones, had alerted AFP officers to their plan to bring their son back to Australia, where they would offer to bring him in for questioning.

But authorities cancelled Mr Bridgeman's passport, stranding him.

There are media reports that Mr Bridgeman may have been near Idlib in north-western Syria several months ago.

The ABC is seeking comment from the Australian Federal Police and Mr Jones.

Originally seen here:

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