Brandis claims leaked ASD spy document is 'unverified'

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Brandis claims leaked ASD spy document is 'unverified'

Snowden a "traitor".

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said a leaked document showing the country's national spy agency offered to share information on citizens with its Five Eyes allies is an "unverified" and "draft" document.

Documents leaked to The Guardian by US whistleblower Edward Snowden show the Australian Signals Directorate offered to share data on Australian citizens to counterparts in the Five Eyes arrangement —New Zealand, Britain, the US and Canada. 

The information related to medical, legal and religious data, the document states.

The spy agency is not inhibited from the privacy restraints holding Canada back from sharing certain data, and is therefore able to share "bulk, unselected, minimised metadata as long as there is no intent to target an Australian national."

"Unintentional collection is not viewed as a significant issue," according to the document.

Responding to the leak, Brandis today said the document in question was unverified, and called Snowden an "American traitor".

"The unverified document is described as a draft document which, contrary to the [Guardian] report, does not report or record any activity by any Australian intelligence agency," he said.

He refused to comment further on the document but said Australian spy agencies operated under a strong framework of legislative, parliamentary, ministerial and executive oversight, which provided an "appropriate balance" between security and privacy safeguards. 

He said Australia's intelligence agencies had helped to thwart a number of "mass casualty attacks" in the country, resulting in the arrest of 23 people on terrorism charges over the past four years.

"The Government is confident the Australian intelligence agencies will act in accordance with the law and always in the service of the national interest."

The latest leak follows recent Snowden disclosures which revealed the ASD had tracked phone calls made by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and those in the president's inner circle.

The leak severely damaged Australina-Indonesian relations, with Indonesia stalling talks over people smuggling and asylum seekers and threatening to cut Australian beef imports.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was forced to write a letter to Yudhoyono to explain the spying activities, which Indonesian officials hinted may have succeeded in patching up relations.

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