Foreign national charged over data access offence

This is a joint release between Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

A Montenegrin national has been charged by the AFP for allegedly refusing to comply with a Commonwealth Magistrate's Order for data access.

The man, 37, a crew member on a bulk cargo carrier, was arrested and charged early Sunday morning (19 November, 2023) after the AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF) officers searched the ship at Port Hedland as part of an Australian border enforcement operation.

Crew members were asked to show police their mobile devices. The man, 37, provided two mobile phones and the passcodes to investigators.

A search of his cabin uncovered a third mobile phone. Police will allege the man refused to provide the passcode to that phone, claiming he found the device during a stop in another country and did not know how to unlock it.

The man was refused police bail and appeared in court today via video link (Sunday, 19 November 2023) charged with one count of failure to comply with an order, contrary to section 3LA(6) of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The maximum penalty is 10 years' imprisonment for not providing access to electronic devices in matters where police are investigating a serious offence.

The man will next appear in court on 21 November, 2023.