Australia considering laptop ban on international flights
The Australian prime minister has indicated that his country may follow the lead of the US and UK and ban passengers from bringing laptop computers into the cabin on certain international flights.
Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that he is looking "very closely" at following the lead of Britain and the United states and ban devices larger than a mobile phone on some commercial flights.
"We are looking at it very closely, taking into account all the information and advice we are receiving internationally, and we are working very closely with our partners," he told reporters in Adelaide.
In March, the United States banned laptops and other electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flight routes from several Muslim-majority countries and was quickly followed by Britain which imposed restrictions on a slightly different set of routes.
The policy was introduced in response to intelligence that al-Qaeda is trying to plant explosives inside electronic devices.
At the time, the Australian Government said it had no intention of imposing a similar ban, but Mr Turnbull suggested on Tuesday that the issue is still under consideration.
Mr Turnbull's comments come after reports emerged claiming that US president Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a meeting at the White House last week.
US officials told the Washington Post that during the controversial meeting the US president began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircrafts.
The Trump administration immediately rejected the claims as "false".
Mr Turnbull would not comment on the reports but said he maintained "great confidence" in Australia's alliance with the US.
"It is the bedrock of our national security and it was reinforced yet again when Mr Trump and I met in New York just a few days ago," he said.
Mr Turnbull did not disclose whether the same information had been shared with Australia.
According to the Post source Mr Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies”.
Australia is one of the largest contributors to the US-led mission against IS in the Middle East and shares highly classified intelligence material with the country as part of the Five Eyes agreement.
The comments also came amid reports that electronic devices restrictions could be extended to transatlantic flights to the US.
European aviation security experts are meeting this week in Brussels to consider possible responses to the reportedly imminent escalation.
Margaritis Schinas, an European Commission spokesman, said on Monday that the high-level talks are "to jointly assess any new threats and work toward a common approach to address them."
Elaine Duke, the department of homeland security deputy secretary, is expected to lead the US delegation.
The extended ban would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights, including business travelers who use laptops to work in-flight.