Australian Senator spied on at offshore detention camp

2015-06-05 12:38

Sydney - An Australian Senator and critic of the government's offshore immigration detention centres on Friday hit out over revelations she was spied on by government-paid private security contractors during a fact-finding visit to a detention camp on Nauru island.

Opposition Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was monitored by guards from Wilson Security during a 2013 visit to the controversial camp in the Pacific nation of Nauru, a Senate inquiry was told on Thursday.

The allegations, which include the clandestine surveillance of her hotel room and monitoring of her conversations, were made by a former Wilson contractor in a submission to a Senate inquiry examining allegations of abuse at the facility.

"When Senator Sarah Hanson-Young visited Nauru, Wilson Security organised a team, to spy on her. This included following her around the island and setting up an observation post to watch her room at the Menen hotel," said the contractor, whose name was not given in the submission.

"Briefing included her room number, vehicle registration and even using code name "Raven" over the radio to make reference to her.

A visibly angry Hanson-Young blasted the revelations in a media conference.

"You've got to wonder what on Earth was going on when management of that team decided that running a surveillance operation on a member of parliament was appropriate," Hanson-Young said.


Australia has been criticised for the secrecy surrounding its "Operation Sovereign Borders" policies, including towing asylum seeker boats out of Australian waters and sending asylum seekers to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they face long term detention.

The Abbott government routinely declines to comment on the implementation of its refugee policies and Nauru has made it virtually impossible for journalists to visit by imposing some of the world's steepest visa fees.

Abbott on Friday acknowledged Hanson-Young's surveillance, saying that it had been done for her own safety and not to spy on her.

"I don't accept that characterisation. I believe she was being, in fact, looked after while she was there," he told reporters.

A senate inquiry found last year that the Australian government had failed to protect asylum seekers in its custody during a deadly riot at a facility in Papua New Guinea and that staff from security company G4S GFS.L took part in the violence.

Hanson-Young said that she was considering legal action in light of the revelation, and slammed Abbott for what she called his "creepy" reaction to the news.

"I don't like to be watched. Most women don't like to be watched and spying on a politician, that's frankly illegal."

Read more on:    australia  |  privacy

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