Can a spy carry a gun?

Australia's spies are said to be given a license to kill

Canberra - It could also be seen as a catching-up process: the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Asis, was founded in 1952, and the government did not admit its existence until 1977. And although Australian agents have found themselves in dangerous situations on foreign missions since then, they were not even allowed to carry weapons between 1985 and 2004. But now they are supposed to get an official "license to kill" from the government - albeit one that is severely restricted.

Because what sounds like James Bond in media reports is only a minor change in Australian legal status in the representation of the government. As the responsible foreign minister, Marise Payne, says, the planned expansion of the secret service's options is primarily about using armed force in situations in which the Asis employees - for example in countries with "war-like conditions" - would otherwise themselves be in danger .

Aligning the law with reality

The specific legal text, however, reads much broader. Agents should be allowed to use "force to a reasonable extent" when people "could jeopardize the success of a mission". A firearm could be used, but also physical violence with the aim of "holding on to opponents, arresting them or moving them from one place to another". Each such action must be individually approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The newspaper "The Age" reports that the planned change in the law is primarily about how third parties can be better protected. It is about Australian hostages, in whose liberation Asis employees could be involved. There is no information about the exact location. But while little is known about the intelligence service's area of ​​activity, it is clear where Australia's military is active: most recently, for example, alongside the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Agent life is a game

The legislative plan has yet to be approved by Parliament in Canberra. The ruling conservative bloc made up of the National and Liberal Party has already announced that it will vote in favor of the project. The opposition Labor Party initially gave no information about their planned voting behavior, but previous statements do not indicate opposition to the project.

The Asis recently attracted attention in another matter. The secret service is looking for employees with an online game. If you want to find out whether your own perception of details, logical thinking, empathy and knowledge of foreign cities meet the requirements of the secret service, you can also try the test from Austria - provided you have a relaxed relationship with passing on your own private data to government agencies. (mesc, November 29, 2018)