New gun laws for spies in war zones
Spooks working in jihadi hot spots or war zones will be given the power to use their firearms to protect hostages or bystanders under major reforms to the Intelligence Act.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne will today introduce legislation which will give Australian Secret Intelligence Service officers the power to fire weapons in the defence of civilians who are not members of the intelligence service.
A second amendment would also give spies working on foreign soil the ability to "use reasonable force" when working.
News Corp Australia understands this would allow spies to restrain, detain or move suspects who risk ruining an operation.
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the amendments would help intelligence officers protect themselves.
"Our ASIS officers often work in dangerous locations, including under warlike conditions, to protect Australia and our interests," he said.
"As the world becomes more complex, the overseas operating environment for ASIS also becomes more complex."
Foreign Affairs said the act had not been reformed in over a decade, despite repeated requests to address national security issues associated with ASIS limitations.
Last year The Daily Telegraph revealed that a secret government briefing had warned spies' lives were being put at risk by the weapons restrictions.
Ms Payne's spokesman said the changes would remove many restrictions which endangered spies.
"Currently, ASIS officers are only able to use weapons for self-protection, or the protection of other staff members or agents co-operating with ASIS," he said.