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Australian anti-terror raids draw criticism

[JURIST] Australian officials Tuesday announced a new series of anti-terror raids in Sydney and Melbourne, re-igniting a debate over the country's tough anti-terrorism laws. No arrests were made or individuals detained as a result of the second sweep in a week by agents of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization [official website]. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has denied claims that his office leaked details [Melbourne Age report] of the raids to the media. Brian Walters, president of Liberty Victoria [advocacy website], complained that the laws promote "demonizing people who cannot defend themselves" [World Today interview]. "The press have not surprisingly camped outside these people's homes wanting a response, but if, as the Government well knows, if these people are to give any response at all, they run a grave risk of being charged with a serious criminal offense," he said. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said the raids have created a "police state" [News.com.au report] atmosphere in the country. Ruddock and New South Wales Premier Bob Carr defended the raids [News.com.au report], saying they address matters of "utmost seriousness" [The Australian report]. Reuters has more.

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