Australia’s government proposed on Thursday allowing its foreign spies to use lethal force against anyone who could jeopardize an intelligence operation, giving the spy agency more autonomy on overseas missions.
Australian law currently allows agents posted abroad to use lethal force in self-defense, to protect the lives of other agents or to safeguard those working with the Canberra government.
“The changes will mean officers are able to protect a broader range of people and use reasonable force if someone poses a risk to an operation,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
For example, the amended law would allow Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) agents to use lethal force to protect individuals, such as hostages, during overseas missions, she said. ASIS is Canberra’s overseas spy agency.
The amendment introduced in parliament on Thursday was necessary because of the increased dangers faced by ASIS agents, Payne said.
“Our ASIS officers often work in dangerous locations, including under warlike conditions, to protect Australia and our interests,” she said.
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