A Sydney court has heard that police illegally monitored a closed Facebook page for four months, before arresting Sydney man Rhys Liam Halvey, Fairfax reports. Officers charged him with three counts of using a carrier service to offend police and three counts of publishing an indecent article. Halvey denied involvement with the offensive Facebook posts.
The offending Facebook images included a photoshopped picture of Miley Cyrus twerking on a police officer, and another photo of officers with the caption "Here's my $25,000 for your $101 fine".
New South Wales Police are faced with having to pay $14,429 in costs. NSW Council of Civil Liberties President Stephen Blanks said the monitoring of an Australian man's private Facebook page without a Supreme Court warrant represented the NSW Police Force's willingness to break the law. Sydney magistrate Roger Brown said the "unauthorised access" was a criminal offense.
During the trial, a senior police officer asked that an officer be excused from cross examination on how the Facebook posts were obtained, out of fear that the resulting statements may be "injurious" to public interest. This immunity application was rejected.
All six charges were later withdrawn and dismissed.
A spokesperson for NSW Police told BuzzFeed News an investigation is ongoing.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at email@example.com.
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