ASIS Admits to Spying on Australian Terror Suspect Without Authority

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. Contact him on
October 16, 2020Updated: October 16, 2020

Australia’s secret foreign intelligence service, ASIS, has admitted to spying on an overseas Australian suspected of terrorism without proper ministerial authority.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security raised the incident in its latest annual report that was tabled in federal parliament.

The report showed that during 2019/20 ASIS was linked to seven events in breach of the Inspector General’s Act.

All but one of the breaches by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service involved “communications not in accordance with the privacy rules,” the report said.

“One of the compliance reports … related to a failure to obtain a ministerial authorisation,” the inspector-general said.

“This case involved ASIS being engaged in activities for the purpose of producing intelligence on an overseas Australian person who was likely involved in terrorism-related activities.

“The case also involved two breaches of the privacy rules and a number of issues of administrative non-compliance.”

The case was brought to the attention of the ASIS Compliance Branch following a compliance training session and then the inspector-general was notified.

The inspector-general said there had also been a “significant delay” between the incident being identified and reported.

ASIS reported to the inspector-general that it has also undertaken reviews into its policies and procedures, and it would use the scenario as part of its compliance training and would update its internal privacy rules policy, and make other changes to ensure it did not happen again.

The inspector-general has said it is satisfied with ASIS’s reporting, investigation and remediation in these matters.