Michelle Leslie bigraphy, stories - Criminals

Michelle Leslie : biography

13 April 1981 -

Michelle Leslie (born 13 April 1981), who also works under the name Michelle Lee, is an Australian model. Leslie is best known for her 2005 arrest, conviction and three-month imprisonment (time served) for possessing two ecstasy tablets in Bali, Indonesia. Prior to this she was a model for Antz Pantz and Crystelle lingerie.

In Australia, the case received national media coverage at the time of the Schappelle Corby and "Bali Nine" trials, two other high-profile cases of Australians convicted on drugs charges in Bali.


Alleged conversion to Islam

During her incarceration, Leslie began wearing Islamic dress and announced through a spokesman that she had converted to the Islamic faith some eighteen months prior to her arrest, although some in the media had suggested otherwise—arguing that her conversion was much more recent and an attempt to win favour in court. However, the nature of her belief remains unclear. In an interview after her release, she stated that she did not "really know what makes you or not makes you a Muslim", and that she was "not a practising Muslim". Years later, her religious beliefs continued to spark commentary, with accusations that she was an "on-again, off-again Muslim model" and that she had "introduced the world to disposable Islam".

The change in dress that coincided with her announcement led to further debate, with Leslie choosing to don a burqa on one occasion when she appeared in court, and opting to wear Islamic dress, such as traditional Muslim hijab, until she was released. Strong criticism emerged upon her release when she was seen wearing tight-fitting clothes without the hijab on her departure from the prison. Once she had returned to Australia, the President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ameer Ali, joined the debate by recommending that she refrain from returning to her former career as "a model for lingerie and underwear", as such behaviour was "not allowed in Islam". In explaining her reasons for adopting the dress, Leslie stated in an interview for 60 Minutes, that the reason she started wearing the hijab while incarcerated was because she was afraid of being sexually assaulted, and to protect herself when she faced the "media scrum". Her decision to wear traditional Islamic dress for protection has since been raised as a defence of sharia law, as it has been suggested that she demonstrated how the "requirement for Muslim women to cover themselves was meant to protect them".

Recent activities

Upon her return to Australia, Michelle Leslie left the Chic Management agency and signed with agent Max Markson. Shortly thereafter she travelled to Cambodia to help raise money for the charity Krousar Thmey, meeting with King Norodom Sihamoni and spending time in local orphanages, before returning home to once again appear on the catwalk. Arriving in time for Australian Fashion Week, her return to the catwalk was in April 2006, modelling swimwear for designer Michael Azzollini.

Although she did have a few modelling jobs after returning to Australia, her career took a different turn when, in 2007, she launched a range of clothing for dogs. Working with friend (and current owner of the business) Traci Griffith, "Miyow & Barkley" had early success when their first range of clothing and accessories sold out shortly after being launched.

More recently, Leslie has been working with fiancé Adam Zammit to promote events through Peer Group Media.

Arrest and trial

On 21 August 2005 two pills were discovered by police in Michelle Leslie's handbag during her visit to an open-air dance party at GWK park on the Indonesian island of Bali. Police suspected the pills to be illegal substances and she was arrested, with forensic tests subsequently finding the pills to be the drug ecstasy. Urine tests conducted at the time of her arrest showed no evidence of the use of the drug, although a later blood test found traces of amphetamines. Her arrest was the third arrest of an Australian in Bali on drugs charges in twelve months following the Schapelle Corby and Bali Nine cases. This prompted Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, to warn Australians about the dangers of drug possession while travelling in Asia, and led the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to comment that Australians caught with drugs "can't expect the Government to bail them out."

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