Law and justice

  • Bourke St rampage killer sentenced to life imprisonment

    James Gargasoulas has been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 46 years, for a 2017 attack that killed six pedestrians. On 20 January 2017 Mr Gargasoulas used a stolen car to mow down pedestrians in Melbourne’s busy Bourke Street mall. Among those dead were a three-month-old baby and a 10-year-old girl. In the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday, Justice Mark Weinberg sentenced Mr Gargasoulas to life imprisonment for each of the ... ► Read more

  • Anita Cobby’s killer dies in prison aged 66

    A judge described Michael Murphy’s crimes as “horrifying” while the crown prosecutor called them “savage”. Now, the man who abducted, raped and killed Sydney nurse Anita Cobby in 1986 has died in jail, aged 66. Murphy was one of five men, including two of his brothers, given a life sentence over the infamous killing, which shocked Australia. The media dubbed the 45-day court proceedings as “the trial of the century”. At the sentencing, Justice Alan ... ► Read more

  • Personae non grata — how ISIS members are being stripped of their citizenship and potentially left stateless

    Neil Prakash, Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana share a lot in common. All three were born in western countries. They all left their home countries to join Islamic State. And they have all now been stripped of their citizenships. Mr Prakash was born in Melbourne, Australia. He converted to Islam in 2012 and left for Syria in 2013. Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and flew to Syria with two friends in 2015, ... ► Read more

  • AG says new medical transfer law has loopholes, refuses to publish legal advice

    Attorney-General Christian Porter has claimed the new medical evacuation (medevac) law passed by both houses of Parliament last week could remove the Government’s ability to return an asylum seeker to offshore detention. Citing fresh legal advice, Mr Porter told the ABC that the law was not linked back to the relevant section of the Migration Act, which grants power to return asylum seekers once they’ve been treated. “It is a terrible law, but this legal ... ► Read more

  • UK strips ISIS teen of British citizenship

    The United Kingdom has cancelled the citizenship of a London teenager who left Britain to join Islamic State (IS), according to her family’s lawyer. Shamima Begum left Britain four years ago, when she was 15, to join the fundamentalist terrorist organisation. Ms Begum was found in a refugee camp in Syria by The Times newspaper this month. Now 19, Ms Begum recently gave birth to a baby boy, and wants to return to the UK. She says ... ► Read more

  • Accused Melbourne child abuser Malka Leifer refused bail by Israeli court

    The Jerusalem District Court in Israel has denied bail to former Melbourne school principal and accused child sexual abuser Malka Leifer, who is fighting against extradition to Australia. Ms Leifer has been charged with 74 counts of child sexual abuse relating to allegations that she abused female students at the Jewish orthodox Adass Israel school in Melbourne. Judge Ram Wingrad ruled that she should remain in custody, ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for 6 ... ► Read more

  • ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention

    Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented him from being detained in Thailand “broke down”. Mr al-Araibi spent two months in a Bangkok prison after having an Interpol red notice issued against him, despite being recognised as a refugee. He was released last week after a decision by Thai officials not to pursue extradition proceedings. “Having reviewed ... ► Read more

  • Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM

    The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. While Mr Morrison said investigators were yet to find any evidence of electoral interference, he did confirm Australia’s cyber security agencies believe a foreign government is behind the attack. “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” Mr Morrison told Parliament. “Let me be ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 3 February – 9 February 2019

    Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall ... ► Read more

  • Former ATO deputy found not guilty of misusing position

    Michael Cranston has been found not guilty of misusing his position as former Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Mr Cranston was alleged to have attempted to arrange a meeting between the ATO and payroll company Plutus, in which his son was involved, and whose accounts were frozen by the ATO due to unpaid taxes and charges approximating $40 million. The prosecution alleged that between April and May 2017, Mr Cranston told an ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the Government will reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention facility, following the Government’s defeat on medical treatment for refugees yesterday. The Prime Minister said the facility will be reopened in anticipation of an influx of asylum seeker boats. “We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of ... ► Read more

  • Russia plans temporary Internet cut-off in “sovereign Internet” test

    Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test is to determine whether Russia has the technical capability to maintain a “sovereign Internet”, with a draft law introduced to the Russian Parliament last year calling for a domestic network that is able to operate independently. During the test, data being transmitted between Russian devices will stay within the country rather than be routed internationally. ... ► Read more

  • Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman sentenced to life imprisonment

    Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life in prison, after a US court found him guilty of drug trafficking. Jurors, whose identities are confidential, found Mr Guzman guilty on all 10 counts after deliberating for six days. Authorities have described the evidence, which dates back to the late 1980s, as an “avalanche”. Mr Guzman reportedly showed no emotion while the verdict was read. However, once the Jury left the ... ► Read more

  • Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle

    The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. On Thursday afternoon the House of Representatives voted in favour of a contentious bill that will allow asylum seekers in detention centres to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment, with doctors having a greater say in the process. Although Labor indicated it was willing to compromise on amendments to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) ... ► Read more

  • Tony Mokbel in critical condition after prison attack

    Underworld figure Tony Mokbel is in a critical condition after he was attacked by two other inmates in Victoria’s Barwon Prison. The maximum-security prison remains in lockdown after the 53-year-old was attacked at around 4:00 pm on Monday. Mr Mokbel was knocked unconscious and stabbed in the chest, and has been flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with serious head injuries. Victorian Commissioner for Corrections Dr Emma Cassar said CCTV footage showed Mr Mokbel being ... ► Read more

  • Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival interstate

    Peter Noble, the director of the iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest, has threatened to move the festival out of New South Wales, claiming new State Government guidelines are threatening the viability of the event. Mr Noble said strict licensing and safety guidelines could cost organisers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We are the industry professionals, we are the people that are presenting events at the highest levels,” Mr Noble said. “Bluesfest has just been inducted into ... ► Read more

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Hakeem al-Araibi on Melbourne-bound flight after extradition case dismissed

    Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is headed home after his extradition case — instigated by an Interpol Red Notice issued by his native Bahrain — was dismissed by the Thai Attorney-General. Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight a little after midnight (local time) and is expected to land in Melbourne at about 1:00pm, where a crowd of supporters, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, will be waiting to meet him. ... ► Read more

  • Universal sues Clive Palmer over use of Twisted Sister hit

    Universal Music is suing Clive Palmer for copyright infringement, after the businessman used a reworked version of Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to promote the United Australia Party. Universal bought the publishing rights to the song from Twisted Sister’s frontman and songwriter Dee Snider in 2015, and filed the suit last week. The band has publicly denounced the cover, with band manager and guitarist John Finch saying that the band “have ... ► Read more

  • Call for “empathy for the elderly” as Aged Care Royal Commission hearings begin

    Hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began in Adelaide today, with victims’ families and seniors’ groups among those to give evidence. Peter Gray QC, senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission, opened by saying a “culture of appreciation and respect for older people is needed”. Mr Gray also told the Commission that changes made to the aged care sector over the past 30 years have created “unintentional complexities” and the multitude ... ► Read more

  • Australia rejects Thailand’s claim it issued Interpol Red Notice against refugee footballer

    The Australian Embassy in Thailand has rejected a claim by the Thai Government that Canberra issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Araibi, who is wanted in his native Bahrain, was arrested by Thai authorities in November 2018 while on his honeymoon. The Thai Government said Mr al-Araibi was arrested at the request of the Australian Government, claiming that Australia alerted Thai authorities to the footballer’s travel. The Australian Embassy ... ► Read more

  • Netherlands “confident” Russia will agree to MH17 talks

    The Dutch Government says it is “increasingly confident” that Russian officials will soon agree to meet for private talks about who is responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. A Dutch-led international investigation has concluded that the airliner was shot down using a Soviet-made surface-to-air BUK missile system. However, Russia vehemently denies any involvement. “We are in contact with Russia over national accountability via diplomatic channels,” a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokeswoman ... ► Read more

  • Security agencies investigating cyber security breach at Federal Parliament

    Australian security and intelligence agencies are investigating a cyber security breach at Federal Parliament overnight. In a statement, Parliament’s presiding officers, Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan, said it appears no data has been stolen and that computer passwords have been reset as a precaution. “We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes,” the statement said. ... ► Read more

  • NAB CEO cancels long-service leave in wake of scathing Banking Royal Commission report

    Andrew Thorburn, CEO of the National Australia Bank (NAB), has cancelled his planned long-service leave to deal with fallout from the Banking Royal Commission, which directly criticised both him and NAB chairperson Dr Ken Henry. Although he initially defended the decision to take long-service leave, Mr Thorburn cancelled his planned break today. “I am committed, I am determined, I believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I believe a leader should be resilient. I cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Frydenberg: Government will “take action” on all Banking Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal Government will “take action” on all 76 recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s three-volume report on misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry was tabled in Parliament and publicly released on Monday, with the Government providing its response in the afternoon. “From today, the banking sector must change and change forever,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “My message to the financial sector today is ... ► Read more

  • Taxpayers may face future liabilities over Opal Tower

    Taxpayers may foot the bill for future liabilities flowing from the Opal Tower controversy, because a state government agency retained ownership of at least 43 units within the Sydney Olympic Park development. Cracks within the 34-storey apartment building appeared on Christmas Eve, resulting in dispute over responsibility between developer Ecove and building firm Icon Construction. However, NSW taxpayers may bear the costs of rectifying the building and compensating owners for losses because the Sydney Olympic ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • Queensland LNP expels state MP Jason Costigan

    The Liberal National Party (LNP) has expelled north Queensland MP Jason Costigan less than 48 hours after he was suspended over a harassment complaint. Earlier this week the LNP revealed it had received a second complaint from the family of a woman in relation to Mr Costigan, having already suspended the Whitsunday MP on an unrelated harassment complaint. The Queensland branch of the Liberal Party made the unanimous decision during a state executive meeting at ... ► Read more

  • Federal and State Governments reject Murray-Darling Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments remain firmly in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite a South Australian Royal Commission finding the plan is based on politics rather than science and recommending it be completely overhauled. Released yesterday, the report of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had acted unlawfully and negligently, and committed maladministration in its approach to developing the plan to sustainably manage the river ... ► Read more

  • Royal Commission: Murray-Darling officials committed “gross maladministration” and acted unlawfully

    The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, set up by the Governor of South Australia, has found that Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in preparing the Basin Plan to save the river system. Headed by Commissioner Bret Walker SC, the Royal Commission has recommended major reforms, including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review, and new measurements for water on floodplains. The Commission found that the Basin Plan ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: Australia is “pushing on every door” to get Hakeem al-Araibi released

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB on Thursday that the Government is “pushing on every door” to secure the release of Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The Prime Minister said he had not received a reply to his letter to Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha, in which he urged Bangkok to return Mr al-Araibi to Australia. In the letter Mr Morrison reportedly pointed out that Mr al-Araibi has a permanent protection visa, stressing the thorough process ... ► Read more

  • Trump ally Roger Stone pleads not guilty to Mueller probe charges

    Roger Stone, a former political adviser to United States President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and longtime ally, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he attempted to obstruct a congressional investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr Stone was arrested in an early-morning raid on his home in Florida, and is the latest of Mr Trump’s close political allies to be charged as a consequence of Special Counsel Robert ... ► Read more

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► Read more

  • US announces criminal charges against tech giant Huawei

    The United States officially announced on Monday (local time) that it has laid 13 criminal charges against China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, several of its subsidiaries, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Huawei and Ms Meng with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran by using a subsidiary company to do business with Tehran. Ms Meng has denied allegations that she played a lead role ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, urges military accept peaceful power transition

    The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as tensions between Caracas and the West continue to worsen. During a joint White House press conference with Treasurer Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions on the oil firm, which exports 41% of its products to the US. “We have continued to expose the corruption of [Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that ... ► Read more

  • Australian writer charged with espionage in China

    Prominent Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage “endangering China’s national security” and engaging in “criminal activities”, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has said at a media briefing in Beijing. “According to our understanding, the Australian national Yang Hengjun was suspected of engaging in criminal activities endangering China’s national security,” Ms Hua said. “At present, the case is being handled according to law, and Yang Hengjun’s legitimate rights and interests have been ... ► Read more

  • Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen postpones testimony, citing threats from the President

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, has postponed his testimony to Congress due to threats against his family from the President. Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement that Mr Cohen has decided to to postpone his scheduled 7 February appearance because of “ongoing threats against his family from Trump”. In an interview with Fox News this month, the President indicated he had damaging information relating to Mr Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • Julian Assange launches legal action against US

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has launched a legal challenge against the United States Government in a bid to reveal charges that are “secretly filed” against him. The Australian whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under political asylum since 2012. Mr Assange believes that if he were to step outside the embassy, he would be extradited to the US. In an attempt to ward off the possible extradition, Mr Assange’s lawyers have ... ► Read more

  • China confirms detention of Australian citizen

    China has confirmed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that it has detained prominent Chinese-Australian writer and blogger Yang Hengjun. Mr Yang had landed at Guangzhou airport after flying from New York last week when he disappeared. In a brief statement, DFAT said that on Wednesday “Chinese authorities informed the Australian Embassy in Beijing” of Mr Yang’s detention, and that the “Department is seeking to clarify the nature of this detention and ... ► Read more

  • US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban

    On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. By a 5–4 majority the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to overturn the injunctions, but declined to further intervene in the cases until after lower court appeals have been completed. The injunctions were issued in relation to President Donald Trump’s August 2017 Memorandum on Military ... ► Read more

  • Six people charged over alleged million dollar baby formula ring

    A “lucrative” organised crime ring that allegedly sold baby formula stolen from around Sydney on the black market overseas raked in $1 million in just 12 months, police say. Six people have been charged after police received information about coordinated thefts of formula and vitamins from major retailers last year. Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty said the “unscrupulous activity” was fuelled by greed, and had been operating for years. “Police will continue to pursue these people ... ► Read more

  • Trump says proposed shutdown-breaking deal won’t give amnesty to “dreamers”

    United States President Donald Trump says his proposed deal to end the ongoing government shutdown would not lead to amnesty for “Dreamers” — undocumented youth migrants — but has indicated he could support an amnesty for illegal immigrants as part of a later compromise. Mr Trump said on Twitter that he would not seek the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants living in the US, and attacked Democrat leaders for refusing his offer. “Amnesty is ... ► Read more

  • Private trusts costing billions in tax revenue, claims report

    Private trusts are being used to avoid paying potentially billions in tax, according to a report by RMIT University that was commissioned by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The report, titled “Current Issues with Trusts and the Tax System”, said that income from trusts was more than $340 billion in 2013–14, but the current method of monitoring and taxing trusts is out-of-date compared to other countries. “The largest part of the tax office’s information about trusts comes through voluntary lodgement of trust ... ► Read more

  • Nairobi terror attack death toll rises to 21

    The Kenyan Government has confirmed 21 people were killed in a terror attack at a luxurious hotel and business complex in Nairobi on Tuesday (local time). Eyewitnesses painted a chaotic scene, with hundreds of people fleeing the complex to escape the attackers. According to the BBC, 28 people have been admitted to hospital for treatement, while 19 remain missing. Al-Shabaab — the Somalia-based extremist group that carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall terror attack that ... ► Read more

  • Woman found dead in Melbourne reportedly Israeli student

    The woman found dead just metres from a Melbourne tram stop on Wednesday morning was reportedly an international student studying in Australia. Israeli media said the woman was aged in her 20s, and that the Israeli consulate in Australia was now arranging for the victim’s body to be returned to her family. Police are expected to further canvass nearby streets on Thursday in a bid to determine how she died, and what led to her ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government concerned by death sentence for Canadian man convicted in China

    The Australian Government has deep concerns over the death sentence given by a Chinese court to a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a quarter of a tonne of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but on appeal to the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court he was sentenced to death. “We are deeply concerned with ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government providing assistance to woman detained in Bangkok

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is providing consular assistance to an Australian woman who has been detained by Thai authorities in Bangkok for over a week, a department spokesperson has confirmed. Claire Johnson, 46, was expected to arrive in Sydney last week after travelling the world for a year, but was detained when trying to exit Thailand. In a series of Facebook messages Ms Johnson asked her friend Juliet Potter to contact ... ► Read more

  • Chechnya: two people killed and 40 detained in LGBT purge, activists say

    At least two people have died and 40 others detained by the Republic of Chechnya in Russia in a crackdown against the gay community, LGBT+ activists charged on Monday (local time). The new allegations follows reports that emerged in 2017 claiming that more than 100 gay men were arrested and subjected to torture, with some of them killed, in the conservative republic. “Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,” Igor ... ► Read more

  • Islamic extremists claim responsibility for Nairobi terror attack

    At least seven people have been killed and eight left wounded after Islamic extremists launched an attack on a hotel complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Kenya’s Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i has assured the public “that the situation is under control and the country is safe.” Al Shabaab — the Somalia-based extremist group that carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall terror attack that killed 67 people — has claimed responsibility. Eyewitnesses have painted a chaotic ... ► Read more

  • NSW Coroner to investigate musical festival deaths

    A directions hearing will be held next Tuesday as the NSW Coroner opens an inquest into recent deaths at music festivals in the state. The inquest will focus on five deaths since September 2018: Diana Nguyen and Joseph Nguyen Nhu Binh Pham at the Defqon 1 festival on 15 September 2018. Callum Brosnan, who died after attending the Knockout — Games of Destiny festival on 9 December 2018. Joshua Tam, who died following the Lost ... ► Read more

  • WA domestic violence perpetrator has sentence doubled after prosecutors appeal

    The Western Australian Court of Appeal has doubled the sentence of a Kimberley man whose attack on his former partner left her a quadriplegic. Joshua Simon Yamalulu, 33, was originally sentenced by the District Court to three years and eight months imprisonment after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to his 38-year-old partner, Peggy Sue Button, at a community in Fitzroy Crossing in February 2017. Mr Yamalulu would have been eligible for release on ... ► Read more

  • No criminal charges for Australian Workers Union raid leaks, says Federal Police

    Criminal charges will not be laid against anyone implicated in leaks to the media about raids on the Australian Workers Union (AWU), after lawyers for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) told the Federal Court on Monday that there were no reasonable prospects of a conviction. The media was alerted that the AFP and Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) officials were searching the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the AWU in October 2017. After being ordered by ... ► Read more

  • Trump: “I never worked for Russia”

    United States President Donald Trump has rejected the suggestion that he has had inappropriate dealings with Moscow, in response to increasing scrutiny of his relationship with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. “I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody,” Mr Trump responded to a reporter as he left the White House on Monday morning (local time). “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace ... ► Read more

  • Actor Rose McGowan pleads no contest, avoids imprisonment for cocaine possession

    American actor Rose McGowan has been ordered to pay US $2,5000 after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanour possession of a controlled substance. The Loudoun County Circuit Court also gave her a 12-month suspended sentence, meaning she will not go to prison unless she commits another offence in that period. “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war,” Ms McGowan told Washington DC broadcaster WTOP Radio. “I’m in it for ... ► Read more

  • Delaying Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, says Theresa May.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs that blocking Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, just days before Parliament is expected to reject her agreement with Brussels on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Prime Minister postponed a parliamentary vote on the agreement in December due to fears the deal would be voted down by MPs, and ahead of the vote on 15 January she has told MPs that they must ... ► Read more

  • Trump denies he kept details of conversations with Putin secret

    United States President Donald Trump has dodged questions about his relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, amid reports he went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep details of one-on-one talks with the Russian President secret. During an interview with Fox News late on Saturday (local time), Mr Trump was asked whether he works, or ever worked, for the Russian Government. The US President replied that it was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 6 January – 12 January 2019

    Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2018 third hottest year on record for Australia Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above ... ► Read more

  • Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border

    United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Mr Trump told reporters during a visit to a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas on Thursday (local time). Flanked by border officers and relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants, and ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to publicly testify before Congress

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, will publicly testify before a US House of Representatives Committee on 7 February he confirmed on Thursday (local time). In a statement, Mr Cohen said he had accepted an invitation from committee chairperson Elijah Cummings to appear before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible ... ► Read more

  • Payne reiterates concern for Melbourne-based refugee footballer detained in Thailand

    Foreign Minister Marise Payne has again raised concerns over the detention of a Melbourne-based refugee footballer by the Thai Government. Minister Payne, who is on a trip to Thailand, brought up Hakeem al-Araibi’s case while in a meeting with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and other high-ranking government officials on Thursday. “The Thai Government is most certainly aware of the importance of this matter to Australia,” Ms Payne told reporters in Bangkok. She said the ... ► Read more

  • Victorian man charged over suspicious packages sent to consulates, embassies

    Police have charged a Victorian man over sending dozens of suspicious packages to consulates and embassies in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. The 48-year-old was arrested at his home in northern Victoria last night and will face court later this morning. He has been charged with sending dangerous articles via the postal service. According to the ABC, the prosecution will allege the man sent 38 parcels containing a substance that they believe was “sourced from his ... ► Read more

  • Dutton proposes public register of child sex offenders

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has proposed a national database that publicly registers child sex offenders. Mr Dutton has written to states and territories urging them to support his proposal, saying that parents should be able to see if sex offenders are living close by. The database, which would include child sex offenders’ names and photographs, is being described as “the toughest crackdown on paedophiles” in Australian history. “Thwarting the exploitation of children is my ... ► Read more

  • Drone sighting disrupts flights at London’s Heathrow

    Departures at Heathrow were temporarily stopped on Tuesday (local time) after a drone sighting was reported. Flights from the west London airport resumed about an hour after police said a drone had been seen. A Heathrow spokeswoman said it was a “precautionary measure” to “prevent any threat to operational safety”. It comes after last month’s disruption at Gatwick Airport which saw thousands of people stranded when drones were sighted. The spokeswoman said Heathrow was working ... ► Read more

  • Kevin Spacey Pleads Not Guilty to 2016 Sexual Assault Allegation

    Actor Kevin Spacey pleaded not guilty of sexual assault when the Oscar winner appeared in court to answer to allegations that he groped a teenager at a bar in Massachusetts in 2016. The case is the first against Mr Spacey to reach court, after a series of sexual assault allegations were made against him at the end of 2017. The former House of Cards actor was not asked for his plea during the arraignment, but ... ► Read more

  • Thai authorities: Rahaf Alqunun will not be returned to Saudi Arabia

    Thai authorities have assured the UNHCR that 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Alqunun will not be deported back to Saudi Arabia. Ms Alqunun renounced Islam and fled her country in hope of seeking asylum in Australia. She says if she returns to Saudi Arabia her traditionalist family will kill her. OPMagazine understands UNHCR has made contact with Ms Alqunun and that she is now in the custody of Thai immigration officials. The Thai Government initially blocked ... ► Read more

  • Trump: USS Cole attack mastermind killed in airstrike

    The al-Qaeda militant behind the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 has been killed in an airstrike, United States President Donald Trump announced on Sunday (local time). Jamal al-Badawi was accused of leading the attack on the US destroyer, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors and injured at least 40 others. It took place as the USS Cole was refuelling in the port of Aden. Mr Trump said the US “military has ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government joins allies in condemnation of Chinese cyber espionage

    Australian officials have confirmed local companies are among the global victims of an extensive campaign of cyber attacks backed by the Chinese Government, aimed at stealing commercial intellectual property. Senior intelligence sources told the ABC it is the biggest threat to Australia’s cyber security uncovered so far. The confirmation came after the US Justice Department charged two Chinese citizens, alleging they carried out hacking at the direction of Beijing’s Ministry of State Security. It is ... ► Read more

  • Gatwick Airport shut down after drone reports

    Sussex Police are considering shooting down a drone that has caused Gatwick Airport to close for more than 24 hours. The police have received about 50 reports of the device being flown near the international airport since Wednesday evening. Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said that although shooting down the drone was earlier dismissed, it is a “tactical option” that is being “continually reviewed”. It has been confirmed that the airport will remain closed on ... ► Read more

  • Trump Foundation to be dissolved amid allegations it was used for personal and political benefit

    United States President Donald Trump has agreed to dissolve his eponymous personal charity and give away its remaining $1.75 million amid allegations he used it for his own personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced on Tuesday (local time). The Attorney-General filed a suit against the charity, Mr Trump, and his three eldest children in June this year, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J Trump Foundation. Ms Underwood said ... ► Read more

  • “Sugar baby”: Andrew Broad scandal deepens

    The Nationals are under increasing pressure to explain the actions of colleague Andrew Broad, who resigned on Monday after the media revealed the married MP had used a dating website to meet with a “sugar baby” on a trip to Hong Kong. Mr Broad quit his position as assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Mr McCormack told a journalist he was told about the serious allegations “a couple of weeks ago”. The story ... ► Read more

  • Tear gas and water cannons deployed after Brussels anti-immigration protest turns violent

    Belgian security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at anti-immigration demonstrators, after a protest outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels turned violent. Local authorities initially banned the protest for fear of violence erupting, but Belgium’s High Court overturned the ban, citing the right to protest peacefully. However, police deployed tear gas and water cannons after some protesters became violent when asked to leave, and 90 people were detained. According to police, some 5,500 ... ► Read more

  • NSW pilots world first mobile phone detection system

    Technology capable of detecting drivers illegally using mobile phones will be rolled out in two Sydney locations as part of a world-first pilot scheme. Following testing, the NSW Government chose Australian company Acusensus to trial the high-tech cameras on the M4 and Anzac Parade. Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said that more than 11,000 drivers a day were detected during the month long trial period in October. “Shockingly, one driver was pictured ... ► Read more

  • Maria Butina admits to being Russian agent in plea deal

    A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent has admitted that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun rights movement to gather intelligence on conservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power. Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with US federal prosecutors. The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, ... ► Read more

  • French police shoot dead Strasbourg gunman

    French police on Thursday (local time) shot dead a suspected gunman who had been on the run since killing three people at Strasbourg’s popular Christmas market on Tuesday (local time). More than 700 French security forces had been hunting for 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt since the bloodshed on Tuesday night. He was believed to have been injured after exchanging fire with soldiers during the attack, but managed to escape and had not been seen since getting ... ► Read more

  • Trump says he never told Michael Cohen to break the law

    US President Donald Trump has responded to his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s sentencing, saying he “never directed” Mr Cohen to break the law. Mr Cohen was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. Both Mr Cohen and federal prosecutors ... ► Read more

  • PM announces new anti-corruption commission

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new federal anti-corruption commission, giving in to sustained demands from Labor and the crossbench for establishment of such a body. The Opposition and crossbenchers in both houses of Parliament have long called for the establishment of a federal anti-corruption watchdog, and the Government has finally capitulated, although Mr Morrison admitted that it had been under consideration since the start of the year. “This is an exercise we embarked ... ► Read more

  • George Pell removed from Pope’s close advisers

    Pope Francis has removed from his group of close advisers two cardinals hit by sexual abuse scandals, including his economy minister, Australian George Pell, the Vatican said on Wednesday (local time). Cardinal Pell has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his job as head of the Secretariat for the Economy, one of the most powerful posts in the Vatican, to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offences in Australia. Vatican spokesman Greg ... ► Read more

  • “Blind loyalty”: Donald Trump’s former “fixer” sentenced to three years in prison

    Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Mr Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to ... ► Read more

  • Huawei CFO granted bail by Canadian court

    A court in Vancouver, Canada has granted bail to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, while she awaits a hearing for extradition to the United States. The US alleges the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder misled multinational banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting those banks at risk of violating US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Justice William Ehrcke granted bail to Ms Meng, with a bond of ... ► Read more

  • Suspected Russian spy Maria Butina reaches plea deal

    Federal prosecutors have reached a plea deal with Maria Butina, the Russian woman who parlayed her interest in gun rights and her Republican Party connections into an unofficial influence campaign inside the US. Ms Butina has agreed to plead to a single charge of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent on America’s soil without registering as required with the Justice Department. She faces a maximum of five years in prison but could serve far ... ► Read more

  • Paris riots: economy suffering as Macron to address nation, Trump attacks climate accord, and Russia accused of involvement

    The French “yellow vest” protests have continued for a fourth consecutive weekend of rioting across the country. What began as a protest against planned fuel tax increases has broadened into a general anti-government movement, with protestors demanding lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits. Some 1000 people are currently being held in custody, 100 of whom are minors and most without police records. Most of those in custody are men under 40 who ... ► Read more

  • Government calls on Thailand to release Melbourne-based refugee

    The Australian Government is calling for the immediate release of a Melbourne-based refugee from Thai detention, amid fears he could be tortured if an extradition request made by Bahrain is carried out. Hakeem Ali AlAraibi — a Bahraini national — was detained at Bangkok Airport in November and remains in custody despite being cleared to return home after an Interpol Red Notice used to detain him was lifted. Amnesty International has joined calls for his ... ► Read more

  • Asylum seekers to allege torture in class actions against Australian Government

    Asylum seekers will allege that the Australian Government subjected them to “torture, crimes against humanity and the intentional infliction of harm” as part of two class actions concerning Australia’s offshore processing system. The cases have been filed in the High Court of Australia and represent all remaining detainees on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and on Nauru. Their legal team, led by Julian Burnside QC and human rights lawyers from the non-profit National Justice ... ► Read more

  • Knockout Games of Destiny death renews calls for pill testing

    Another Sydney music festival death has renewed calls for pill testing at major events but the NSW Premier is standing firm against the measure. A 19-year-old man died in Concord Hospital early on Sunday while two women, aged 19 and 25, and a man are in critical but stable conditions at Westmead Hospital after suspected drug overdoses at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday night. NSW Police Assistant ... ► Read more

  • ASX set for flat open as global markets tumble

    Australian shares are set for a subdued open as trade uncertainty, falling oil prices, and global growth concerns weigh on Wall Street, which resumed overnight after a one-day break. The SPI200 futures contract is down 3.0 points, or 0.05%, to 5,654.0, at 0800 AEDT on Friday, pointing to a flat open for the ASX. US stocks are mostly down on mounting worries of slowing global growth after a fresh twist in China-US tensions, with the ... ► Read more

  • Ecuador’s president says Assange can leave London embassy “in near-liberty”

    Ecuador’s president said on Thursday (local time) that conditions have been met for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the country’s embassy in London, which would end a six-year standoff with British authorities. “The way has been cleared for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty,” President Lenin Moreno told reporters, explaining that he still had to answer in Britain for violating the terms of his bail. President Moreno, however, said Britain ... ► Read more

  • Labor backs down, supports Federal Government’s controversial encryption laws

    Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will gain greater access to encrypted messages — such as Facebook messages — after a Labor backdown allowed the Federal Government to pass its legislation on Parliament’s final sitting day. Labor had planned to amend the legislation, which it has repeatedly described as flawed. But late on Thursday Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor would pass the laws provided the Coalition agreed to make certain changes in the new year. Labor then ... ► Read more

  • Government faces defeat on critical refugee legislation

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing a humiliating defeat as his Government may be unable to block a bill that would expedite medical treatment for refugees held in offshore detention centres. Independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps introduced a bill to the House of Representatives on Monday to require refugee children and their families in Nauru and Manus Island be transferred to Australia for medical and psychiatric assessment. But, despite the possibility of receiving support from ... ► Read more

  • British A-G publishes Brexit advice: Northern Ireland could remain in EU customs union indefinitely

    British Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox has published his legal advice to the British Government concerning the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, just days after the Government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to provide the advice in full. The advice on Brexit consists of six pages that focus solely on the legal effect of the “Irish backstop” set out in the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, which will be ... ► Read more

  • Putin warns of new arms race if US withdraws from INF treaty

    Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned. His comments came shortly after the Russian Foreign Ministry said it received official notification that the US intends to withdraw from the INF unless Moscow remedies what Washington says is a serious violation of the treaty. Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range ... ► Read more

  • PM promises conscience vote on LGBTI+ students after Parliament delays bill

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of breaking a promise to end discrimination against LGBTI+ students, after the Federal Parliament failed to reach agreement on a bill and delayed the matter until next year. Mr Morrison has responded by pledging to introduce his preferred version of the legislation as a private member’s bill, with Coalition MPs to be given a conscience vote on the issue. Under his proposal, religious schools would not be able ... ► Read more

  • Dozens of construction workers killed in Papua attacks

    Indonesian authorities are attempting to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier killed by gunmen in the province of Papua this week. Police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote village in the centre of the province’s Nduga district. According to officials, the workers had been brought from Sulawesi to help build the trans-Papuan highway. The following day, ... ► Read more

  • British Government releases Brexit advice after being found in contempt of Parliament

    The British Government will publish the full legal advice on which it has based Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union after MPs found the Government in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary. The Government lost the vote by 311 to 293 at the beginning of a week of votes related to leaving the EU. Before the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May told her cabinet that “candid” legal advice given to the Government must remain ... ► Read more

  • Victorian Government announces Royal Commission into police misconduct

    The Victorian Government announced on Monday that it will establish a Royal Commission into police misconduct that may have jeopardised at least 22 criminal convictions, including that of underworld figure Tony Mokbel. Some of Australia’s most notorious criminals received letters on Monday telling them that their defence lawyer had acted as a police informant in what the High Court of Australia has described as “reprehensible conduct” on the part of Victorian Police, who were “involved ... ► Read more

  • Macron orders PM to hold crisis talks to end Paris riots

    French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered his Prime Minister to hold crisis talks with political leaders and demonstrators, as Paris experiences its worst riots in a decade. As part of the nationwide anti-government protests, riots broke out in the French capital on Saturday (local time), leaving hundreds injured and causing widespread destruction throughout the city. During a meeting with his government on Sunday (local time), Mr Macron told Prime Minister Édouard Philippe to hold talks ... ► Read more

  • Israeli police recommend Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud

    Israeli police have said their investigation has found sufficient evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, in a third corruption case against the leader. Authorities on Sunday alleged Netanyahu awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group, in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on Bezeq’s subsidiary news website, Walla. Prime Minister Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. “These recommendations were determined ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 25 November – 1 December 2018

    Julia Banks moves to the crossbench, denounces Coalition’s “reactionary right wing” The Morrison Government has been dealt a major blow, with moderate MP Julia Banks revealing she will quit the Coalition and join the crossbench. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Federal Government under fire for scheduling only 13 sitting days before budget Labor has attacked the Federal Government for scheduling just 13 parliamentary sitting days before the federal budget is released in April ... ► Read more

  • Michael Cohen admits to misleading Congress over Trump Moscow project

    US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted on Thursday (local time) to a criminal charge of making false statements to Congress. Prosecutors allege he deliberately minimised the extent of discussions with Mr Trump about a Moscow-based real estate project and obscured the fact that conversations about the proposed development continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. The felony charge Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday was the first brought against him ... ► Read more

  • AFP investigating soldiers over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

    Allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan are now the subject of a Federal Police investigation. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement it received a referral in June and had launched its own investigation. It follows an inquiry led by New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Paul Brereton, who is assisting the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to investigate the actions of Special Forces soldiers during the ... ► Read more

  • ASIS officers could be given clearance to shoot people threatening operations

    Officers from the highly covert Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) could soon be permitted to shoot enemies who pose a risk to other people involved in their overseas undercover operations. Under current legal arrangements, ASIS officers are only able to use their weapons for self-protection, or to protect those working with the spy agency. On Thursday the Morrison Government will introduce new laws to Parliament allowing ASIS staff to use “reasonable force” during their overseas ... ► Read more