29 year old Anthony Khallouf, founder of "Australians vs The Agenda", one of the larger groups organizing demonstrations against Australia's lockdown policies boasts over 12,000 followers on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform.
Through his Telegram channel, Khallouf and others were reportedly instrumental in launching "Australia Freedom Rally" demonstrations in July, and coordinating distribution of materials for the "Worldwide Rally for Freedom" which saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets in Europe, Australia, and North America against vaccine mandates and vaccine passports.
Now the influencer-turned-activist is heading to prison. After an appearance in the Hornsby local court, Khallouf pled guilty to four counts of "non-compliance with a direction relating to COVID-19", "encouraging the commision of crimes", and "false representation resulting in a police investigation." He was sentenced to eight months in prison.
According to the Guardian, "Australians vs The Agenda" is linked to "conspiracy theory groups, some with ties to the 'far right'".
Australia's ABC reported:
Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said police were aware of tactics being discussed by would-be protesters online.
"This is not about stopping free speech, this is about stopping the spread of the virus," he said.
Talk of the gathering has been swirling on encrypted messenger apps since thousands attended the rally last month.
That protest resulted in more than 60 people being charged and more than 350 infringement notices issued.