AFP keeps an eye on Siev X website
By Kate Mackenzie
30 July 2003
FEDERAL police have constantly monitored a website featuring criticism of police involvement with Siev X, the boat that sank on the way to Australia in 2001, drowning hundreds of asylum-seekers.
An investigation by The Australian found AFP officers were downloading hundreds of pages from the website, working in the early hours of the morning.
The Sievx.com website lists news and information about the Siev (suspected illegal entry vessel) X, which sank while attempting to make its way from Indonesia to Australia in October 2001. Of the 387 asylum-seekers on board, 353 were drowned.
Run by Melbourne-based Marg Hutton since June 2002, the website features regularly updated comments by former diplomat Tony Kevin -- a critic of the Howard Government's response to the Siev X tragedy, and the AFP's sponsorship of a program to disrupt people-smuggling operations in Indonesia.
Mr Kevin claims operatives in the federal police program may have been involved in sabotaging boats containing asylum-seekers before they left Indonesia, whether or not the AFP initiated or knew of such actions.
Federal police spokeswoman Jane O'Brien confirmed the site was monitored but said it was part of a technical pilot program to test website-archiving software.
She said Sievx.com was one of several websites being monitored and indexed into a database for future search and retrieval.
'Obviously that website's got information on it that is of interest from time to time to the AFP,' Ms O'Brien said.
However, she said the police interest in the site related to people- smuggling, not to the allegations about the AFP's involvement in the Siev X sinking.
Mr Kevin is not involved with running the website, but works with Ms Hutton in a partnership.
'I think the facts speak for themselves,' he said when asked about the AFP's monitoring of the site.
Ms Hutton noticed several months ago that large sections of her website were being downloaded at 1.42am or 1.43am each morning.
These downloads were traced to the AFP.