AFP offers help on virus protest websites

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Australian Federal Police investigators could help their state counterparts deal with any online organisers of last weekend’s violent anti-lockdown protests.

AFP chief Reece Kershaw told the National Press Club on Wednesday the investigation into the rallies was the responsibility of state police agencies.

But he said the AFP would provide support if requested.

“As far as the federal aspect goes, there are some other probably fake sites going on and other things and we actually do that in a joined way with the state jurisdiction, wherever that is hosted,” he said.

“So rest assured we are called when there is a Commonwealth nexus or federal aspect to a state crime. So, that is our jurisdiction, otherwise we don’t have jurisdiction.”

Media outlets have reported the German-based Worldwide Demonstration group helped coordinate the rallies, which have so far resulted in more than 60 local arrests.

The group has been behind a number of similar protest events around the world.

Asked whether conspiracy sites were being monitored, Mr Kershaw said: “Some of that would be between myself and the intelligence agencies and we rely on them to alert us when there is an attack plan being coordinated online and they refer that to us.”

“We have good mechanisms to monitor those groups.”

He noted NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, who has established a strike force to investigate the Sydney rally, said there was no single leader behind the protest.

“It wasn’t really organised by a central group, so that makes it difficult.”

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation stonewalled questions about whether it was looking into protest organisers.

“Consistent with long standing practice, ASIO does not comment on groups or individuals,” a spokesperson told AAP.

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