ASIO settle out of court, wrongful detention case

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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the Federal government of Australia have settled out of court with a couple whose house had been raided a couple weeks after the 11 September 2001 attacks against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers in the USA.

ASIO, a domestic counter-intelligence service, mistakenly raided the couples house when they had a search warrant for another house.

The couple were detained for an hour and claimed they were assaulted, wrongfully detained and experienced severe shock when, according to their claims, ASIO officers threatened to destroy their door and then held them at gun point.

It is also claimed that until an hour after the attack, ASIO officers would not allow Mrs. Fatme Iali to put on her clothes. As compensation, the couple asked the court for Aus$1.5 million in damages. Although it is unknown how much Bilal Daye and his wife received in the out of court settlement (under the terms of the deal, the settlement cannot be disclosed), they stated that they were satisfied with the result.

"Just relieved, I can take care of my family now, that's all I wanted," Mr Daye said.

Mr Daye's solicitor Stephen Hopper said the victory was very important for civil rights, but suggested that close scrutiy of government actions was required in the future.

"What this case demonstrates is that ASIO can be held accountable ... the government can be held open to scrutiny," he said.

"Control orders can be slapped onto a person before the evidence can be tested in court ... they should have to justify why such orders and restrictions should be put on a free person before they do it."

"The government's got to be scrutinised for all of its actions and if they make a mistake they should be held accountable."

Mr Hopper argued that the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill could prevent media reporting of incidents such as this.

"If the new laws were brought in and it was an issue of preventative detention no probably not, no," he said

"If it's an issue of an ASIO warrant, under section 34d of the ASIO Act, no, you wouldn't and the Government's got to be scrutinised for all of its actions and if they make a mistake they should be held accountable," he added.

It is unclear what implications it could have for websites like Wikinews, which are hosted on servers outside Australia.

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