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Mexicans still seek Victorian woman

Date

Philip Dorling

Political activist Felicity Ryder

Political activist Felicity Ryder Photo: Peter Cox

THE parents of a Victorian woman wanted for questioning by Mexican counter-terrorism investigators insist their daughter is a ''caring and gentle person'' who had no direct involvement with anarchist bombings.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed Mexican authorities are still seeking Felicity Ryder, a Melbourne University graduate and political activist who has been linked to an anarchist activist allegedly responsible for explosions in Mexico City six months ago.

Ms Ryder came to Mexican police attention in late June 2012 after her passport was found in the backpack of alleged bomber Mario Antonio Lopez Hernandez, who was arrested after being wounded by the accidental explosion of an improvised explosive device.

Documents released to Fairfax Media under Freedom of Information legislation show that Ms Ryder did not report her passport lost or stolen and has not contacted the Australian Embassy in Mexico City to seek consular assistance.

She is wanted for questioning by investigators from the Mexican Attorney-General's Department who have undertaken to notify Australian authorities in the event of her arrest.

Fairfax revealed in November that Ms Ryder was the subject of a probe by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that included inquiries in her home town of Rutherglen.

It is believed that ASIO interviewed Ms Ryder's parents, Lyndon and Jenny Ryder, who said they did not know their daughter's whereabouts and declined to disclose details of an email address she had used to contact them after Mexican media incorrectly reported that she had been arrested.

Diplomatic cables and consular reports released by DFAT show the Australian Federal Police also contacted the Mexican Attorney-General's Department about the case.

The Australian embassy in Mexico City was instructed by Canberra that, in the event Ms Ryder made contact and sought a new passport, they ''should inform her that, as the whereabouts of her current passport is known, she will need to seek its return from the Mexican authorities''.

In a recent letter to Fairfax, Ms Ryder's parents insisted their daughter ''finds herself in her current situation in Mexico as the result an unfortunate set of circumstances, but we are convinced she has had no direct involvement with [the bombings in Mexico City]''.

''Felicity is [an] intelligent, caring and gentle person who has worked tirelessly for most of her adult life in support and defence of human rights for the less fortunate,'' they wrote.

''She has worked to bring attention to the plight of asylum seekers in Holland who were being detained in disused merchant ships in Rotterdam harbour and acted as a human shield trying to protect Palestinian school students from being shot in the legs by the Israeli army in reprisal for throwing stones at their tanks.''

Mr and Dr Ryder declared themselves to be ''immensely proud of our daughter'' who they said was ''a committed vegan driven by the belief that it is morally unacceptable to exploit animals''.

In a statement posted on the Mexican anarchist website, Liberacion Total, in July, Felicity Ryder declared herself ''proud of being an anarchist, and proud to be an enemy of authority and the state''.

Mr Hernandez, under guard in hospital while his wounds healed, released a statement in which he took responsibility for his actions and denied Ms Ryder's involvement in the bombings. He said ''the problem is that [she] is now implicated'' because a backpack had been left at the scene of the attempted bombing.

Dr Ryder declined to comment further in response to DFAT's release of documents relating to her daughter. DFAT has reaffirmed that the Australian Embassy in Mexico will offer consular assistance should Ms Ryder request it.

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