30 July 2003 (08:18:15)
Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons
[Sound clip]

LINDA MOTTRAM: The Australian Federal Police have admitted that they are monitoring a website devoted to the sinking of the Siev-x.

The operators of the website say [sic] they are close to uncovering the extent of the role of government agencies in sabotaging such people smuggling vessels.

The AFP claims they are only monitoring the site for information about people smugglers and not to check on allegations about their own activities.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: When the boat now known as Siev-x sank off the Indonesian coast in October 2001, 353 potential asylum seekers to Australia were drowned.

The Siev-x website runs news about the alleged involvement of Australian Federal Police operatives in the sabotage of boats at their point of origin in Indonesia.

It's been revealed Australian Government agencies are scanning the site in the early hours of the morning, downloading hundreds of pages.

A contributor to the Siev-x site is the former Australian ambassador to Cambodia, Tony Kevin.

TONY KEVIN: I think they're anxious to keep ahead of any new evidence that we produce in real time and not to be taken by surprise.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: What evidence have you produced that the AFP could be interested in?

TONY KEVIN: Well the Siev-x website is an archival site that collects every piece of public information that exists about the sinking of Siev-x and the drowning of its passengers.

I believe that there is substantial evidence, leading towards a likely conclusion that the Siev-x was sunk as a part of an Australian Government disruption program, to disrupt people smuggling in Indonesia.

That program operated through liaisons established between the Australian Federal Police and elements in the Indonesian National Police that were prepared to do this kind of work.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: What evidence is there that the AFP was involved in such activities?

TONY KEVIN: For example, Mr Keelty has admitted that the Federal Police trained 20 Indonesian police in disruption techniques for a week in a hotel in Bali.

Mr Keelty also admitted that the AFP does not think it has full control over how those men chose to implement that training.

In reply to a question from Senator Cook last year, Mr Keelty said that if the Indonesian disruption teams had sabotaged engines the AFP wouldn't necessarily know about it.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Mr Keelty from the AFP said he also didn't condone such activities as I recall.

TONY KEVIN: Mr Keelty has said that yes, but the point of the matter is that Mr Keelty's organisation trained the Indonesian police, set up the disruption teams selected by AFP out of the Indonesian police.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Australian Federal Police acknowledges it's monitoring the site as part of an archival program.

The Federal Government rejects any accusation it was involved in the sabotage of boats.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police says the site is one of many that is automatically checked for new information for the AFP library.

The spokeswoman says the Siev-x site has information about people smuggling, but denies the AFP searches it for information about its alleged involvement in the Siev-x incident.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Hamish Fitzsimmons with that report.


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