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Police seek deals with Sydney universities to covertly monitor “IMGs”, or “interest-motivated groups”, identify key members, in run-up to APEC

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

Police had spent months secretly monitoring university political groups in the run-up to this week’s Asia-Pacific Econ­omic Co-operation forum, docu­ments obtained under freedom of information revealed, reported The Age (3/9/2007, p. 4).

Only “publicly available materials” discussed: A unit operating in the intelli­gence section of the NSW Police APEC Security Command had been in contact with security personnel at Wollongong Univer­sity, Macquarie University and the University of Technology, Sydney, requesting permission to covertly monitor “IMGs”, or “interest-motivated groups”, The Age said. “The universities said they had only discussed publicly available materials with the unit and had not allowed covert surveillance of student groups”, the newspaper said.

Identification of key activists: “However,” according to The Age, “in one email, sent from an officer to the UTS secur­ity manager on December 7, the unit’s brief was made clear. ‘Given that next year holds events including state/federal elections (and) APEC, there is a strong possibility that IMGs will become more active in 2007,’ the officer wrote. ‘Our main charter is to moni­tor these IMGs and identify the current key members.’ He said the intelligence unit planned to attend ‘scheduled events’ on campus.”

Policing “politicised”: “When contacted about the correspondence,” The Age said, “a spokesman for UTS confirmed they had been in contact with APEC police but said they were not aware of covert monitoring. He did not deny, however, that intelligence officers had been on the grounds.” A spokesman for Wollongong University confirmed that offi­cers from the unit had twice met university security staff. The university had not given per­mission for officers to monitor university students, he said. One of the 29 student activists excluded from APEC areas, UTS tutor Paddy Gibson, 24, said the monitoring was part of the reason he had been blacklisted. “I think policing has become in this case very, very politicised,” he said. While refusing to confirm the existence of the unit, the commander of the APEC Security Command, Assistant police Commissioner Dave Owen, said “intelligence collection” was a legitimate police function.

The Age, 3/9/2007, p. 4

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