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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 12:42 GMT
Sydney protester faces deportation
A 'no-war' sign is painted on top of the Sydney Opera House
Mr Saunders and his friend were protesting against the Iraq war
A British man who painted "No War" in large red letters on the top of the Sydney Opera House may have cause to think twice about his actions.

Will Saunders' protest against the US-led war in Iraq has left him pleading with the Australian authorities to spare him from deportation.

The 42-year-old astronomer, who has been living in Australia since 2000, climbed the 67m ( 220 foot) Opera House last Tuesday to daub his anti-war message on the largest white sail.

Mr Saunders and his Australian accomplice David Burgess were arrested by New South Wales police within hours of their stunt.

Both were charged with malicious damage, an offence which normally just carries a fine.

But the federal government told Mr Saunders he also had to explain why he should not be deported for his actions.

I love Australia, and I will settle here if you will have me
Will Saunders
Mr Saunders' decision to deface the Sydney Opera House, one of the country's most famous tourist icons, has outraged some Australians.

But on Tuesday he apologised to those who felt he was "ungrateful in painting their Opera House," and promised to raise funds to pay for the clean-up.

"I love Australia, and I will settle here if you will have me," Mr Saunders said.

"But please understand the frustration I felt when all legitimate avenues to prevent an illegal and bitterly unpopular war are closed off or ignored."

There have been many anti-war protests in Australia in recent weeks, with demonstrators voicing their anger at Prime Minister John Howard's staunch pro-war stance, as well as the deployment of 2,000 Australian troops to the war effort.

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