Senator questions AFP on intelligence officer raid

By Shannon Jenkins

September 5, 2019

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Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick has called on the Australian Federal Police to explain whether a raid on the home of a spy agency officer is related to the investigation into a journalist.

“Given the recent controversy about Federal Police raids, [the AFP] should immediately publicly clarify the purpose of today’s AFP raid on the Canberra home of a person said to be a former senior [government] media adviser. Is this raid leak related?” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Patrick has also urged Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to give his opinion on the matter.

“These matters are of huge public interest and it is incumbent upon the minister to come out and explain the government’s position on all of this,” he told ABC Radio.

Police raided the Canberra home of Australian Signals Directorate officer Cameron Gill, husband of Australia’s ambassador to Iraq, Dr Joanne Loundes, on Wednesday.

Dressed in plain clothes, six officers stayed at the home for more than five hours before leaving with large black plastic bags at 3:00pm.

Gill was previously a senior adviser to former defence materiel minister Mal Brough, and his successor, Dan Tehan. He then moved into the office of former cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos, before returning to the public service in 2017.

The AFP would not comment on whether the incident was related to the June raid of journalist Annika Smethurst’s home, after she suggested the ASD could monitor Australians in a report.

“This activity does not relate to any current or impending threat to the Australian community,” they said in a statement.

“As this is an ongoing matter, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Gill is being represented by criminal lawyer Kamy Saeedi. He went to the house to join Gill after being alerted of the raid.

Smethurst’s news stories implied that the Defence and Home Affairs ministers had given the ASD approval to monitor Australians by secretly accessing emails, bank accounts, and text messages.

Last month, Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo said the person who leaked a top-secret document to Smethurst should go to jail, and expressed his concerns over the “likely location of that person within the bureaucracy”.

READ MORE: Pezzullo says document-leaker was playing a forbidden ‘Canberra game’ and should ‘go to jail’

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