Commonwealth Games: Nine Indian 'journalists' detained, one charged with people smuggling


Nine Indian nationals have been detained, one of them charged, at Brisbane Airport, after raising suspicions that they were "not genuine" reporters.

Australia's Border Force officials have reassured that safety at the Commonwealth Games has been maintained after nine Indian nationals were detained at Brisbane Airport - one of them charged with people smuggling. 

Members of the group claimed they were accredited journalists covering the event. 

Police respond to detention of nine Indian 'journalists'
Police respond to detention of nine Indian 'journalists'

An Australian Border Force (ABF) Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) in Bangkok flagged the group on transit through Thailand on suspicion they may be non-genuine travellers. 

They were questioned by ABF officers on arrival in Brisbane and eight were found to have fraudulent foreign media credentials, police allege. 

One of the Indian nationals, Rakesh Kumar Sharma, has been arrested and charged with people smuggling and a separate offence relating to false documents and false information. Police allege the 46-year-old facilitated the group’s travel.

He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and is due to face court on April 6. 

The other eight individuals remain in immigration detention.  

Queensland's Border Force Commander Terry Price warned anyone trying to exploit the Commonwealth Games through Australia’s visa program would be prosecuted.  

“Anyone wishing to enter Australia, including athletes, team officials, spectators and the media, must hold a valid visa and accreditation and must be deemed to be a legitimate visitor,” Commander Price said on Thursday. 

“As with all travellers, the ABF will process all Commonwealth Games visitors on arrival and anyone found not to be here for legitimate purposes can expect to have their visas cancelled and to be turned around. This may occur on arrival in Australia, or prior to boarding flights to Australia.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said while he had yet to be fully briefed on the incident, the government remains committed to its tough border security policy.

“Now what we have done is kept our borders secure. We are generous and compassionate country when it comes to the humanitarian program,” he told reporters in Broken Hill.

“The big difference between the Liberal National government that I lead (and Labor is) our government determines who comes to Australia. That is our job. That is what the Australian people expect us to do.

“We are not going to allow our borders to be outsourced to people smugglers as Labor did.”

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