Amnesty International 'conned' into backing siege gunman

AMNESTY International has admitted Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis had conned them into lobbying the Australian Government in his bid to gain a refugee visa into the country.

Sky News Australia reported the admission came after News Ltd obtained a letter from a refugee co-ordinator at Amnesty International to the Department of Immigration.

News Ltd published the letter this week.

In it, the aid organisation urged the government to issue Monis refugee status, believing his claims he had been a top-level Iranian spy.

The April 1997 letter argued Monis would be at risk if forced to return to Iran.

Monis's application was subsequently approved in 2001 under his birth name Mohammed Hassan Manteghi.

Monis made international headlines late last year when he took 18 people hostage in a siege at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney.

The 17-hour siege ended with the death of the cafe's manager Tori Johnson, 34, and hostage Katrina Dawson, 38, and heavily armed police stormed the cafe and killed Monis.