By Crikey reporter Lucy Morieson

The story of deported US peace activist Scott Parkin has been given new legs in the wake of Greg Sheridan’s page one story in The Australian yesterday, claiming that Parkin was planning to canvass violent tactics at his Melbourne workshop:

Scott Parkin, the US peace activist deported last week
after ASIO decided he was [a] security threat, had been planning to
instruct demonstrators in tactics including disabling police horses and
springing arrested protesters from custody.

The Australian
has learned there are a variety of tactics that are more frequently
seen in major demonstrations, which ASIO and other federal agencies
believe increasingly put the police involved at serious risk of injury
and even death. These include organised groups of demonstrators
isolating individual police officers from their colleagues.

So
who leaked to Sheridan? Attorney General Philip Ruddock yesterday
refused to confirm or deny the report – and has called for evidence
that a leak occurred. “If you have evidence that a leak has occurred
you might like to give that to me so I can provide it to the Australian
Federal Police for any investigation that they are undertaking,
assuming that they are,” The Age reports.

Scott Parkin yesterday denied the allegations, telling The Age he found them “false, unfounded and personally damaging.” And he told ABC’s PM
that he had recently dissuaded activists from engaging in such tactics:
“I actually got up in different seminars during the Forbes Conference
in Sydney and said I think it’s a bad idea, because it leads to things
like assault on a police officer charges. So philosophically and
practically I’m against it.”

The man who was organising Parkin’s Melbourne forum, Iain Murray, editor of a local non-violence website,
says that at no time did he and Parkin discuss the use of violent
tactics – and he has the written agenda to prove it. He says that if
ASIO was privy to such details, they must have been intercepting his
email or spying on him in the cafes of Melbourne’s Smith Street – if
they could understand the jargon of non-violence theory, that is.

Murray
spoke to ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine this morning, who became quite
worked up over the issue, and urged him to take legal action against The Australian for defamation. Murray says that he does intend to seek legal advice, and will advise Parkin to do the same.

It
will be interesting to see whether the government cracks down on the
source of the leak – it’s a breach of the Crimes Act for ASIO personnel
to leak secret information without authority – especially in light of
the Herald Sun
journalists and the public servant who all face jail over the leak of
confidential information from the office of then Veterans’ Affairs
Minister Danna Vale.

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