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Victoria man who promoted anti-lockdown protest on social media is jailed for eight months

Australia's coronavirus restrictions on civil liberties have been amongst the most extreme.
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A 29-year-old man from the Australian state of Victoria was sentenced to eight months in prison after social media posts advertising anti-lockdown protests in Sydney, New South Wales, and a violation of other public health orders. Last weekend, the whole state of New South Wales was put under lockdown.

Anthony Khallouf was arrested at a train station on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, at a court in Sydney, he was charged with public health order violations and organizing protests, sentenced to eight months in prison with a three months non-parole period.

Khallouf is the founder of an anti-lockdown group called Australians vs. The Agenda.

On his social media profiles he promoted the “Australian Freedom Rally,” and encouraged his followers to distribute posters for the “Worldwide Rally for Freedom.”

Khallouf was also convicted of “false representation resulting in police investigation” after allegedly telling Instagram followers on to call police because he felt his life was in ­danger.

“I need everybody to call NSW Police right now and tell them that there’s threats to my life,” he wrote.

“This caused several people to contact police … causing police to investigate those claims and no doubt taking up significant ­resources,” magistrate Robyn Denes said at the hearing.

Khallouf’s public health order violations included crossing the state border from Queensland to New South Wales. He was visiting a relative in Sydney.

“Police are aware of unauthorised protest activities planned for this weekend. Do NOT attend,” NSW Police posted on Facebook on Tuesday.

“Public safety is our first priority and you will be fined or arrested if you turn up #StayAtHome.”

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