AFP warned former federal government MP George Christensen was at risk of blackmail for ‘activities’ in Southeast Asia

The former coalition government was warned by federal police, former MP George Christensen threatened to be blackmailed for “activities” he undertook in Southeast Asia.
The detail is in a 2018 letter from the Australian federal government Law enforcement (AFP) to then Home Secretary Peter Dutton, who police and Christensen have fought on numerous occasions since 2019 to keep secret.

In the letter written by former Deputy Commissioner Ramzi Jabbour, police said an investigation into the former Nationals MP’s frequent trips to the area has found no evidence of “criminal behaviour”, but warned that he was “engaged in activities that could potentially endanger him “from being the target for compromise by foreign interests”.

Former MP George Christensen during question time in 2020. (Alex Ellinghausen)

It revealed that the police review began following a tip-off in September 2017, after a “source previously unknown to the AFP” claimed that Christensen “engaged in inappropriate conduct abroad, possibly in violation of Australian law”.

9News has been fighting for this letter to be disclosed under freedom of information laws since July 2019.

The Australian Federal Police argued that it should not be released for privacy reasons, later arguing that it could harm national security.

Christensen has always claimed coverage and questioning his frequent trips to Southeast Asia was a sordid slander.

He made three classified submissions to the information watchdog in his fight to prevent the letter from being released.

Christensen spent 294 days in the Philippines from 2014-2018 in four years, leading to him being referred to as the “Member for Manila” by some of his colleagues.

MP George Christensen threatens to make the coalition a minority.
Christensen spent 294 days in the Philippines from 2014-2018 in four years. (Alex Ellinghausen)

Last October, the former MP denied trying to block the release of the letter, but said he objected to it being made public.

“I’m not happy with, in fact, documents that falsely accuse me of a serious crime being made public because then people can report what you’re being falsely accused of and that’s just wrong for everyone,” he told 9News.

Dutton was among a number of high-profile government figures briefed by the AFP about its assessment of Christensen’s journey.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was briefed six times while on the job, and former Nationals leaders Barnaby Joyce and Michael McCormack were also given police briefings.

The Information Commissioner ruled in favor of 9News and released its findings on the letter on June 30. It was only released after an objection period had passed.

In her report, Commissioner Angeline Falk said she was “confident that a public purpose would be served by the release of the document through increased scrutiny, discussion, commentary and assessment of the government’s activities”.

Letter from the AFP to then Home Secretary Peter Dutton about George Christensen
AFP’s letter to then Home Secretary Peter Dutton. (Nine)

Christensen did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

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