Representation photo Pixabay

Federal Minister Andrew Giles on Monday withdrew the claim that immigration detainees, who have been released, were under drone surveillance, saying it was a mistaken reference.

Giles made the claim last week while speaking to the media when he was asked why the 153 released detainees were not being placed under electronic monitoring.

"Last week, in an interview on Sky News, I stated that Operation Aegis was using drones. I relied on information provided by my department at the time, which has since been clarified," The Guardian quoted Giles.

The Department of Home Affairs, too, clarified that the operation "may use aerial imagery from a variety of sources for operational planning purposes."

Australian police forces or the Border Force do not use drones for Operation Aegis, which tracks persons released from immigration detention.

On Friday, the federal police told the Senate Estimates they were not using drone surveillance though they had a key role in Operation Aegis, SBS reported.

Intelligence expert John Coyne stated it would be "impractical and resource intensive" to use drones for monitoring, and that it could cause privacy concerns.

"Moreover, it raises a number of privacy concerns for Australians and Australian communities. Law enforcement's use of surveillance and surveillance technologies is highly regulated for obvious reasons," Coyne said.

Giles also claimed he cancelled visas of 30 non-citizens "with serious criminal histories" who were permitted to stay back in Australia after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) overturned visa cancellations issued by departmental delegates.

The minister came under pressurie over ministerial direction 99, which he had issued in 2023. Under the directive, the immigration officials and AAT had to take into account the individual's connection with Australia and the duration of their stay when reviewing visa cancellations.

Last November, the federal government legislated criminal penalty against violation of visa rules by persons who were released from immigration detention. Under the new law, violations such as breach of curfew and not wearing ankle bracelet would fetch one minimum one year imprisonment.