The Guardian 29 June, 2005

Ruddock defends ASIO raids

ASIO, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state police executed a number of search warrants on Monday June 27 in Melbourne and Sydney. Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is refusing to say whether these raids are linked to those carried out last week, which reportedly thwarted a plot to attack major Australian landmarks.

When asked on ABC radio about ASIO raids on properties in Sydney and Melbourne, Ruddock said that his office had not made any "defamatory" or "cowardly" leaks to the media.

He has also rejected claims by the Melbourne lawyer representing accused terrorist Jack Thomas that the raids are politically driven and defamatory.

"I have said that there were a number of enter and search warrants issued", Mr Ruddock told ABC Radio.

"They were issued in accordance with law.

"Nobody has been naming the people who were the subject of those warrants and it is not a matter that I have put any information in the public arena to which anybody needs to reply."

The lawyer, Rob Stary, says the raids are designed to help justify the increased terrorism powers of ASIO and the AFP in light of the legislation being reviewed.

"I think itís sinister in its overtones, because I think whatís happened is thereís been a vilification of people in a defamatory and cowardly way to the point that theyíre not permitted to defend themselves", he said.

"One would have to be suspicious as to the political motives.

"Now whether thatís coming from the intelligence agencies or whether thatís coming from the Commonwealth Attorney-Generalís office or the Australian Federal Police, we donít know."

A spokesman for Mr Ruddock would not provide any details on the raids, but did confirm that no charges had been laid following Mondayís raids or those of last week.

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