Australia defends intelligence raid as spat increases with China

Australia defends intelligence raid as spat increases with China

FILE PHOTO: Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton oversaw St Sebastian’s Church, where two Australian citizens were killed on Easter Sunday during their visit on 3 June 2019 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. REUTERS / DINUKA GIANAVATE / File Photo

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Lydia Kelly

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday defended the government’s right to conduct intelligence raids to prevent foreign interference, following condemnation by China over the homes of its journalists working in Australia.

Dutton refused to directly confirm that Chinese journalists had been interrogated by Australia’s intelligence agency in June, saying the investigation was still ongoing, but said

Some “activity” was carried out by the country’s intelligence agency.

“Where (the Australian Security Intelligence Organization) has sufficient grounds for execution of search warrants or other activities, they will initiate that activity,” Dutton said on Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) television.

“If people are conveying messages as journalists or business leaders or whoever they may be, and there is evidence that they are acting in a nature contrary to Australian law, then …. () agencies Will work. ”

The raid was revealed by China’s Foreign Ministry last week in the wake of two Australian journalists visiting China after being questioned by Chinese police. Australia’s trade minister said on Friday that the agencies acted on evidence related to a foreign intervention investigation.

On Saturday, China’s state media condemned the raid.

Relations between Australia and its top trade partner China have been slowly deteriorating in recent years and resentment in Beijing has increased this year after Canberra called for an investigation into the origin of the novel coronovirus.

China has imposed trade restrictions on products including barley and wine, prompting Australia to toughen national security tests for foreign investment.

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