10 May 2023

Cooktown man charged over fake AFP badges

| Matt Nicholls
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A COOKTOWN man has been charged with impersonating a Commonwealth public official and importing fake Australian Federal Police badges as part of an ongoing Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) investigation.

Police arrested and charged the 66-year-old Cooktown man last Tuesday on behalf of the Queensland JCTT.

He faced court in Cooktown and was granted bail. He is next scheduled to appear on July 13.

Police will allege the man was a member of a group that came to police attention as a result of a video circulating through social media channels claiming to be a recording of the AFP Commissioner detailing plans to overthrow the federal government.

The man speaking in this video is not AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw.

As part of this investigation a Perth man was charged in August and a Peterborough woman was charged in September.

It will be alleged the Cooktown man took delivery of a consignment of 500 counterfeit AFP badges from China. A total of 470 badges, believed to be the vast majority of the consignment, have been recovered by police.

Queensland JCTT investigators have not found any impending threat to community safety, and have yet to find any evidence the group had the ability to carry out the plans they had discussed.

AFP assistant commissioner for counter terrorism Scott Lee said the AFP was continuing to investigate this matter and last week’s arrest reflected the seriousness of the offences.

“While there is no evidence the group had the ability to carry out any specific violent acts, the AFP and its partners take all threats of this nature seriously, and we have not hesitated to bring people before the courts to answer for their alleged criminal acts,” he said.

“The AFP will continue to work with our partners to keep the Australian community safe.”

Anyone with information about extremist activity or possible threats to the community should come forward. The National Security Hotline is 1800 123 400.

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