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Political blogger will 'vigorously defend' stalking claims

Petros Khalesriad and lawyer Kris Jahnke leave Rockhampton Court House after having their bail variation application dismissed.
Petros Khalesriad and lawyer Kris Jahnke leave Rockhampton Court House after having their bail variation application dismissed. Chloe Lyons

A POLITICAL blogger accused of stalking Keppel MP Brittany Lauga has been banned from using Facebook or coming within 100 metres of Ms Lauga and her family.

Petros Khalesirad, who has been charged with unlawfully stalking Ms Lauga between February 20 and August 27, failed in an attempt to vary his bail conditions in Rockhampton Magistrates Court.

The bail conditions entered into by Mr Khalesirad at the Rockhampton watchhouse on August 27 stipulated he must not directly or indirectly contact or come within 100 metres of Ms Lauga and her family, he is prohibited from using social media or any public forum to make comment or post material in reference to Ms Lauga and her family, and must not approach or enter Ms Lauga's residence or office.

But Mr Khalesirad's lawyer, Kris Jahnke argued the bail conditions imposed on his client were having an economic impact on his life as he was unable to fulfil his role as a political blogger.

 

Mr Jahnke said Mr Khalesirad was a freelance journalist and his "constitutional right to implied political freedom" was being impinged upon because he was unable to make comment about Ms Lauga.

The proposed bail variation put to the court would allow Mr Khalesirad to comment on Ms Lauga online, but not contact her via her personal number, email or go to her house.

Mr Jahnke requested the 100 metre exclusion zone around Ms Lauga's office be amended as it prevented Mr Khalesirad from seeing four clients in that area.

The potential defence Mr Jahnke said he intended to use in a future trial existed under the stalking legislation and stated any contact in relation to political opinion could be excused as unlawful stalking.

Police prosecutor Clancy Fox told the court the police opposed the bail variation.

He alleged harassment suffered by Ms Lauga caused her detriment and hindered her from doing things she would normally do and added there was possibly an inference in the text messages Mr Khalesirad was sending Ms Lauga that he was monitoring her home, leading to insecurity of privacy and safety.

Mr Fox said the rights and risks must be balanced in relation to bail conditions adding a consequence of bail was having your rights infringed on for a period of time.

Magistrate Michael O'Driscoll told the court he wasn't convinced the bail conditions were too onerous, adding the allegations against Mr Khalesirad were serious and could lead to a term of imprisonment.

Mr O'Driscoll also commented that the proposed bail variation suggested that Mr Khalesirad still wished to have some contact with Ms Lauga's office.

Mr Khalesirad and his lawyer contend they will be "vigorously defending" the allegations.

The case has been adjourned to November 9 for a summary review where a brief of evidence will be presented.

Topics:  brittany lauga, editors picks, petros khalesirad, politics



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