The Australian Federal Police is investigating itself after details of an operation to arrest an alleged North Korean agent were accidentally broadcast on social media.
AFP officers arrested a 59-year-old Sydney man on Sunday and charged him, alleging he had tried to arrange the sale of North Korean missile parts.
But days before the man’s arrest, the AFP’s media team broadcast a minute-long discussion on live-video streaming app Periscope of how they would manage media surrounding the event.
The Periscope clip was recorded by The West Australian – whose report included details on the timing of the arrest, and whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull or opposition leader Bill Shorten would need to be briefed.
In the audio, an officer was heard saying AFP officers were “not going in all guns blazing, it’s only half-a-dozen people and a forensic van”.
Another AFP officer can be heard saying they needed to take into account what politicians would need to know.
“We just need to recognise that the PM will be standing up at some time on Sunday to talk about Bennelong [by-election], as will Shorten.”
According to the newspaper, the broadcast remained on the AFP Periscope page until they notified media officers it was still there.
An AFP spokesman confirmed part of an office conversation was accidentally broadcast via their Periscope account on Wednesday, December 13.
“The incident occurred when testing a piece of social media broadcasting equipment,” the spokesman said.
“Steps have been taken to ensure such incidents will not occur again.
“The matter has been referred to the AFP’s Security area for review. As such, no further comment will be made at this time.”
At the time of the arrest on Sunday, AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said the case was an Australian first.
He said the AFP allege the man had been acting “to serve some higher patriotic purpose” to raise funds for North Korea, and could have raised tens of millions of dollars if successful.
“This case is like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
The man, named as Chan Han Choi, is understood to have been born in South Korea but has lived in Australia for three decades as a naturalised citizen.
He was charged with offences relating to being a broker and economic agent for the North Korean regime, including two under Australia’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995.
The man is expected to appear in Central Local Court next week.
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