Melbourne man charged with preparing for foreign interference

The AFP has today charged a 65-year-old Melbourne man with preparing for a foreign interference offence, contrary to section 92.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

The man appeared in Melbourne Magistrates' Court today.

The AFP executed a number of search warrants in the greater Melbourne area on 16 October 2020.

It follows a year-long investigation by the Counter Foreign Interference (CFI) Taskforce, led by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the AFP, working with taskforce partners into the man's relationship with a foreign intelligence agency.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney said the man was the first person in Australia to be charged with a foreign interference offence since the Commonwealth Parliament passed the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill in 2018.

"The CFI Taskforce has taken preventative action to disrupt this individual at an early stage," Deputy Commissioner McCartney said.

"Foreign interference is contrary to Australia's national interest, it goes to the heart of our democracy.

"It is corrupting and deceptive, and goes beyond routine diplomatic influence practiced by governments.'' 

The matter remains an ongoing investigation.

As the matter is before the court, no further comment will be made.

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