Australia spy agency denies security breach

SYDNEY - Australia's domestic spy agency yesterday played down concerns that maps shown in a media briefing revealing the source of home- grown fighters travelling to the Middle East were classified, after fears that their publication was a security breach.

The maps, which revealed the Sydney and Melbourne suburbs where the fighters came from, were photographed and filmed by journalists during a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and spy chief Duncan Lewis.

The Labor opposition attempted to move a motion in Parliament yesterday condemning Mr Abbott and the government.

"The House condemns the Prime Minister and the government for putting politics before the security of Australians by revealing sensitive information of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) for the sake of a media opportunity," read the motion, which was defeated.

But ASIO said the maps were not classified.

"The director-general of security (Mr Lewis) confirms the documents used in the briefing were not the subject of a national security classification," the spy organisation said. The statement contrasted with earlier comments by ASIO to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, when it reportedly said the maps were for "official use only".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Spy agency denies security breach'. Print Edition | Subscribe