Man freed after airline plot arrest shocked to be questioned

A man arrested over the weekend in Sydney has been released without charge and was shocked to be questioned about a plot to bring down an airliner, his lawyer and police said Wednesday.

Four Lebanese-Australian men had been arrested late Saturday by police who also reportedly seized a meat grinder that investigators thought may be the basis of a bomb.

Abdul Merhi, 50, was released from police custody on Tuesday night, Australian Federal Police said. “This investigation remains ongoing and further information will be provided at an appropriate time,” the police statement said.

Merhi’s lawyer Moustafa Kheir said his client had endured intense questioning. “There’s a lot of stress associated there, and not knowing, and he was shocked that he was being questioned,” Kheir said.

The lawyer said Merhi’s family was also in shock and his life had been “turned upside down” but he wanted to return to as normal a life as possible.

“It’s just unfathomable that he would be associated with anything like this,” Kheir added.

A court has allowed police to hold the men for seven days without charge under counterterrorism laws designed to prevent an attack.

Australian officials will not comment on reports that the arrests followed a tip from U.S. or British intelligence agencies that had intercepted communications from Syria.

Australian authorities have said they thwarted a credible terrorist plot to down an airplane by smuggling a device onboard. They have provided few details, including the precise nature of the threat or any airlines involved.

The United Arab…

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