Period of detention for Lisa Smith extended by 24 hours

Update: Lisa Smith has had her period of detention extended by 24 hours.

The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith landing at Dublin Airport. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith landing at Dublin Airport. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.

The 38-year-old Dundalk woman was arrested yesterday, as soon as she disembarked off a commercial flight from Turkey at Dublin Airport shortly before 11am.

She is being questioned by Gardaí over her association with the so-called Islamic State and can be held for up to three days.

Meanwhile, the solicitor representing Ms Smith has claimed that the Dundalk woman was not a member of a terrorist organisation.

Darragh Mackin told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that Ms Smith “has a strong case to make” and that being a member of Islamic State is not necessarily a direct link to Isis.

“There are extreme organisations that target vulnerable people on the basis of their religious beliefs to lure them to certain areas.

“Going to a particular location is not a terrorist offence.”

He said that Ms Smith has “categorically denied being involved in a terrorist organisation.” In her case being a member of Islamic State does not mean she was a member of Isis.

People can believe that Islamic State is a “euphoric place” and can feel obliged to go to Islamic State, he added.

Mr Mackin said the current evidence against Lisa Smith is “inherently weak” and does not point to any terrorist offences.

The process of her interview by gardaí is at an early stage, said Mr Mackin, and he believed Ms Smith has a strong case to make.

Lisa Smith
Lisa Smith

He said: “We are satisfied that the investigation is progressing at a reasonable speed and we hope to bring matters to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

“One thing is clear, and has been clear from the various interviews that Lisa has given: Lisa has categorically denied any involvement in any terrorist group or organisation.

“For people to publicly remove or disassociate themselves from Isis in itself is unprecedented and unheard of, especially for somebody who’s in the camp at that particular time.

We are of the view that the evidence at this stage is inherently weak and does not point to any terrorist offences, and we believe Lisa has a very strong case to make and is making that case.

He was satisfied that she has cooperated fully with the authorities in Ireland and in Turkey.

He said it had been clear from television interviews that Ms Smith does not pledge allegiance to Isis and that she was not involved in violence.

The interviews had been given at a time when she was detained in a camp where it was well known that anyone who spoke out could be subjected to threats, rape or torture.

The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith lands at Dublin Airport and Lisa Smith leaves the aircraft with a pink blanket over her head.Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith lands at Dublin Airport and Lisa Smith leaves the aircraft with a pink blanket over her head.Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.

Any claims that Ms Smith had been involved in training or violence were hearsay, he said. “Not one witness has come forward to say that occurred.”

“Going to a particular location is not the terrorist offence, you must be actively engaged in a terrorist organisation or the terrorist grouping,” he added.

“Lisa has categorically denied being involved in any terrorist offence or terrorist group and at this stage there’s absolutely no evidence that she’s been involved in any organisation or terrorist group.

“We must be clear that the word Islamic State is not necessarily a direct link to Isis, of course there are all those connotations.”

In a previous interview earlier this year, Ms Smith told a journalist that she joined Islamic State but did not fight for them.

“That interview was given at a time when she was detained in a camp,” the solicitor added.

“In the camp it was well-known that those women who spoke out or in any way disassociated themselves from the violent end of Isis were subject to threats, to raping, to torture.”

Asked about allegations that the Co Louth woman helped train young women in Tunisia, he said: “The reality is there has not been one witness statement and not one witness who has come forward and has suggested that took place.

“There are allegations of hearsay without any foundation or basis.”

Earlier: Gardaí to question Lisa Smith about her IS activities for another two days

Lisa Smith is expected to be questioned by gardaí for two more days in relation to her activities with the so-called Islamic State.

The 38-year-old Dundalk woman has spent the night in Garda custody in Dublin.

The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith lands at Dublin Airport and Lisa Smith leaves the aircraft with a pink blanket over her head.Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.
The Turkish Airlines plane carrying Lisa Smith lands at Dublin Airport and Lisa Smith leaves the aircraft with a pink blanket over her head.Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie.

She was detained on her arrival at Dublin Airport yesterday and is being held for questioning, while her child is in the care of relatives.

It is reported that Ms Smith is keen to give her side of the story to investigators.

She will be questioned again today at Kevin Street Garda Station in Dublin on suspicion of terror offences and can be held for up to three days.

The Irish Times say her likely defence to charges will surround the definition of the word "membership".

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell said she has a lot of questions to answer.

Senator Gerard Craughwell said: "Lisa Smith, at the moment, is innocent until proved otherwise, she is a citizen of the State. We can all criticize her for taking off over to Isis, I'd be the first to say that as a former member of the Defence Forces she knew exactly the kind of people she was going to join up with and she is going to have to explain all of that."

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says all relevant State agencies are involved, and the Tánaiste said it is up to the DPP to decide what happens next.

Ms Smith came home to the glare of the media and a social media frenzy, and was promptly arrested.

After leaving Ireland to join the so-called Islamic State group, she was detained in Syria, deported from Turkey, and her child taken into the care of relatives on her arrival back in Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it first became aware of the case in March when Unicef was warning of high mortality rates at the Syrian camp where the mother and child were being held in "dire conditions" after a Turkish incursion.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said their primary concern was ensuring the safety of a two-year-old girl caught up in a warzone, adding the DPP will decide what happens next.

“We have been working with partners to ensure we could respond, a complex consular case, primarily the safety of a two-year-old girl in a war zone, living in camps where there have been high instances of child mortality,” he said.

“So we have been, quietly and professionally working to secure the welfare of the child with the help of the Turkish authorities, who insisted on returning them to Ireland."

Asked about public concern about Ms Smith's return to Ireland and her now “living among us”, Mr Coveney retorted by saying: “She is not living among them, she is a garda station being questioned.”

- Additional reporting by Digital Desk and Press Association

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