Aussie spies seek criminal immunity

Dec. 26, 2012 at 4:15 PM
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SYDNEY, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Australian spies say they want the same legal protection as undercover police if they are going to be asked to infiltrate suspected terrorist organizations.

Australia's covert Australian Security Intelligence Organization said undercover spies risk criminal prosecution if they receive training from a terrorist group, even if they are gathering intelligence to thwart potential attacks, officials said.

"If an ASIO officer or human source is tasked to collect covert intelligence in relation to a terrorist organization, they may be open to criminal liability under the Criminal Code if, in the course of collecting the relevant intelligence, they receive training from that organization," the Attorney General's Department told lawmakers.

An AISO spokeswoman told The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph undercover spies will occasionally have to engage in what would normally be considered illegal acts to fulfill the mission of infiltrating suspected terror groups. Agents deserve legal immunity from prosecution if they are carrying out orders, the agency said.

A report on the matter from a parliamentary committee is due next year, The Daily Telegraph said.

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