Australian spies who leak information still face jail

WHISTLEBLOWERS inside Australia's intelligence agencies will not be given the same protections offered to journalists who expose details of national security operations, following a review of new laws.

The laws passed under the Abbott government with Labor and Palmer United Party support.

In their original form, the laws could have led to journalists being jailed for reporting details of "special intelligence operations".

But a review of the laws by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor has deemed as unconstitutional a clause that would allow journalists to be charged for such reporting.

The monitor, Roger Gyles QC, recommended the law be changed as it could breach reporters' constitutional right to political communication.

He did not extend the same recommendation to current or former intelligence officers, despite such whistleblowers often being essential to informing reporters about such operations.

Mr Gyles wrote that a distinction needed to be drawn between "outsiders" and "insiders" in the intelligence establishment.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the government had accepted all of Mr Gyles' recommendations and would amend the laws accordingly.


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