An FBI officer has been cleared of all wrongdoing after lying his way into an Australian military officer’s home.
Claims were levied stating that the FBI agent’s actions had breached Australian sovereignty.
Bill Spencer’s exoneration of wrongdoing has outraged the woman he had been attempting to lure to the U.S. embassy. Gwyneth Todd was a former Middle East adviser to the White House, Pentagon, and U.S. Navy.
Todd stated that the agent’s discretion could have been in order to protect the United States.
Since the incident, the AFP have been forced to deny claims that agent Spencer had approval for the intrusion. Defence investigator stated that AFP “received prior notification of the FBI’s intended activities regarding Ms. Todd”.
”I can’t imagine why America allowed him to get away with it, and even further I can’t imagine how Australia would allow an American to run roughshod over them,” Ms. Todd, who lives in Canberra, told The Age yesterday.
The incident occurred in February of 2012, when Spencer went to the house that Ms. Todd was living in. The agent introduced himself as a U.S. consular officer named Bill Phelps and claimed to be investigating U.S. passport security matters.
Ms. Todd reportedly was suspicious of the man and sent him away. The agent called back later in the day and confessed he was in fact an FBI agent and wanted to speak of a case involving her ex-partner. Her ex-partner is State Department official Robert Cabelly, who is currently facing trial regarding Allegations he broke oil sanctions for personal profit.
Saskia Hufnagel from Griffith University’s Center of Excellence in Policing and Security has since stated that Mr. Spencer’s actions may have breached Australian sovereignty. ”If there was an ongoing American investigation and they were questioning this lady as part of the American investigation and they didn’t ask the Australian police … then they breached Australian sovereignty,” she said.
While the actions of Spencer may not be technically legal, they are at least questionable, she said. ”He is, in some way, exerting US powers in a country which is not a US jurisdiction.”
A senior AFP officer told Defence that Spencer “was not accompanied by… the AFP as he was not attempting to utilize any police powers and was operating within the authority in Australia.”
”The AFP was not aware of the intention of the FBI officer to pass himself off as a consular officer, or to inappropriately or inaccurately identify himself.”
The U.S. embassy is refusing to comment on the matter.
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