Subject: AAP: ASIO to probe defence leaks on East Timor

December 1, 1999, Wednesday

ASIO to probe defence leaks on East Timor

CANBERRA, Dec 1 AAP -Attorney-General Daryl Williams today would neither confirm nor deny that Australia's domestic spy agency was investigating alleged intelligence leaks on East Timor but he said if this was the case it would be done in accordance to the law.

The Age newspaper today reported the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) had launched an investigation into a series of highly-embarrassing leaks by the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation (ADIO).

The investigation was prompted by a series of stories based on classified ADIO East Timor assessments published by newspapers, the ABC and The Bulletin magazine.

It would be a no-holds barred probe, headed by Defence Department assistant secretary Jason Brown, which could result in criminal charges against those who leaked any information as well as those who received it, the paper said.

Mr Williams, whose approval would be needed for telephone intercepts used by ASIO, said he was unaware of the Age report and refused to comment on it.

"On matters of national security, the practice of successive governments has been not to comment," he told ABC radio.

But he promised any investigation would be conducted according to the law.

"Let me say that anything that ASIO does will be done in accordance with the legislation under which ASIO is set up," he said.

"Anything that ASIO does will be capable of being inspected by the inspector-general of intelligence and security who has access to all the information that ASIO can provide."

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