Australia considering laptop ban on Middle East and African flights

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the federal government is looking 'very closely' at banning laptops in the cabins of flights arriving from several Middle Eastern and African countries.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australia could be implementing a ban on passengers carrying laptops in the cabins of aircraft arriving from certain Middle Eastern and African countries, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, in response to terrorism threats that could potentially involve bombs hidden in large electronic devices.

This is much like the rationale given to similar bans instituted by the United Kingdom and the United States earlier this year for passengers arriving on flights from several EMEA countries.

"The government is aware of the changes that have been made and, you know, we are looking at it very closely," Turnbull said in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Turnbull added that the government is presently considering advice and information that it is "receiving internationally", as well as "working very closely with our partners" on the proposal.

Australia's consideration of following suit with the US follows reports by the Guardianlast month that the US may extend its aircraft cabin laptop ban to passengers travelling from the UK and Europe.

Governments in the US and the UK had initially introduced the electronics ban in March, affecting passengers arriving from majority-Muslim nations including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the regulations, those on flights departing certain airports are required to pack electronic devices with dimensions larger than 16x9.3x1.5cm into checked luggage rather than carrying them on-board, excepting medical equipment.

The regulations followed reports that alleged terrorism groups were looking to hide explosives inside of large electronic devices, although neither government gave clear details to the public at the time of the announcement.

The US government later said it had "evaluated intelligence" pointing towards terrorists "aggressively pursuing" methods for carrying out foreign attacks, with the UK government adding that the measures were "necessary, effective, and proportionate".

United States President Donald Trump's administration had previously attempted to ban all flights from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya into the US, which faced widespread criticism and opposition before being shut down by the courts.

With AAP

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