Reporter accuses Australia of visa discrimination

Reporter accuses Australia of visa discrimination

Reporter accuses Australia of visa discrimination

Updated 19 December 2011, 14:04 AEDT

The key speaker of an Australian writers festival has accused the Australian Immigration Department of racial discrimination by refusing to give him a visa.

Dr Abdel Bari-Atwan - who was the last Western-based journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden - says he has not been given a reason for a delay in approving his visa, which he applied for six weeks ago.

The director of the Brisbane Writers' Festival says other visiting writers had their visas approved in a few days.

Dr Bari-Atwan says he's never been refused a visa for any country, including the United States, and he's planning to fly to Australia regardless.

"I don't have a criminal record, I never been indulge in any sort of Islamic fundamentalism, I am secular person, so why they are treating me like this?" he said.

The immigration minister has issued a statement saying Dr Bari-Atwan has not been refused a visa to visit Australia.

The statement says his application is currently being asessed and is subject to normal processing.

He says anyone who wants to travel to Australia should submit their visa application as soon as they know their intended travel dates.