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Tuesday, 18 June 1996
Page: 2063

Mr VAILE —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has the Attorney-General seen the reports in the Age newspaper about the deportation of Mohamed Hassanien? Are these reports accurate?

Mr WILLIAMS —I thank the member for his question. Yes, I have seen the reports. ASIO has, regrettably, reported that Australia is not immune from extremist groups as a range of ethnic, religious and cultural differences flourish in different parts of the globe. I can say that the deportation of Hassanien represents the conclusion of a successful operation which involved ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Victoria Police and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. This operation demonstrates Australia's deep and continuing concern to stop the spread of terrorism. Wide-ranging cooperation with other countries helped provide the background needed to bring this case to a successful conclusion.

As a result of that cooperation, information was received that Hassanien may have been in Australia. ASIO conducted inquiries to confirm that information and to locate Hassanien. The inquiries were extensive, involved a number of agencies and were made more difficult by Hassanien's use of false travel documents. Once his presence in Australia was confirmed, ASIO advised the AFP, and a joint operation including the Victoria Police and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs was undertaken, leading to a successful arrest. The government was kept fully informed of the investigation.

While this case demonstrates Australia's continued commitment to preventing international terrorism, I am concerned that the operational details were revealed in the media so extensively. I have spoken to the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police and expressed my concern about that. The commissioner has undertaken to investigate the matter and ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to cover similar situations in the future. I do not expect to report on the outcome of the investigation.