Chaser crew lucky not to be shot
September 08, 2007 12:00am
A TEAM of TV comics arrested over a breach of APEC security were lucky not to be shot by snipers, police and private experts said.
Security planner Neil Fergus, who advised on risk assessments in the lead-up to APEC, said the stunt was the most stupid he had seen and could have ended in bloodshed.
"Self-indulgent, self-serving and dangerous -- what they did was really dumb," Mr Fergus said.
"The police look like fools., They got through a checkpoint -- wow.
"There are snipers on the InterContinental (Hotel) with live ammunition.
"The reality is that if police hadn't handled it properly . . ."
The comics, from the ABC's The Chaser's War on Everything, attracted headlines around the world when they were arrested on Thursday after their fake motorcade, complete with Canadian flags, passed two police checkpoints and stopped outside President George W. Bush's hotel.
Chaser member Chas Licciardello jumped out of a car dressed as Osama bin Laden.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione was still fuming yesterday.
"I'm angry. I'm very angry this stunt happened," Mr Scipione said.
"(They) put security services in a position where they might have had to take an action no one would want.
"We have snipers deployed around the city. They weren't there for show, they mean business. That's what they were there for."
Mr Fergus said that with 7000 security guards, supported by police and military officers, the huge security operation was bound to have some problems.
"Yes, there was an unauthorised convoy, but if there had been garbled communications (between police) we could be talking about something entirely different today," he said.
"There could be some poor copper today having a nervous breakdown having shot a comedian."
Eleven members of the comedy team have been charged with entering a declared area without justification.
Police are considering further charges.
In a follow-up stunt yesterday, three Chaser members were questioned by police after strapping on cardboard cars complete with Canadian flags and "driving" through central Sydney.
An ABC spokesman said they were not charged.
Chaser star Julian Morrow denied Thursday's stunt was irresponsible.
"We had no intention of harming anyone. Sorry, guys . . . lucky it was us and not al-Qaida," Morrow said.
The prank raised the eyebrows of some US TV newsreaders, while others laughed.
"A prank by a TV comedy crew has turned into an international incident and it could end up making a laughing stock of the entire (APEC) security machine," said a straight-faced Phillip Palmer on America's ABC TV network.
"$160 million was spent to keep dignitaries safe and a convoy of actors got within yards of President Bush's hotel."
CNN, FOX News, NBC and CBS also carried stories showing footage of the Chaser members being arrested.
Australian Comedy Group Prods APEC Security
Posted by kdawson on Thursday September 06, @08:50AM
from the blame-canada dept.
"Members of the Australian comedy group The Chaser were arrested today after attempting to breach security at the APEC Leaders Conference in Sydney. Chas Licciardello and Julian Morrow were arrested, along with nine crew members (all are now free on bail), just a short distance away from the InterContinental Hotel where President Bush is staying. They had already cleared at least two police checkpoints, according to CNN, disguised as a Canadian motorcade. 'No particular reason we chose Canada,' said Taylor. 'We just thought they'd be a country who the cops wouldn't scrutinize too closely, and who feasibly would only have three cars in their motorcade — as opposed to the 20 or so gas guzzlers that Bush has brought with him.'"
CNN has a photo of Licciardello, dressed as Osama bin Laden, being arrested.
TV comedy show cast's daring stunt
Members of an Australian TV comedy show, one of them dressed as Osama Bin Laden, drove through two security checkpoints before being stopped near the Sydney hotel where US President George Bush is staying.
The stunt embarrassed Sydney police and Australian politicians who have imposed the tightest security measures the city has seen for a summit of leaders from Pacific Rim countries.
Police arrested 11 cast and crew from the satirical TV programme The Chaser's War on Everything and impounded three vehicles, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said on its website.
Comedy team breach Apec security
The Chaser's War on Everything: when a team member jumped out of a car dressed as Osama Bin Laden, police arrested him and his colleagues. Photo: AFP/Jewel Samad
A satirical TV comedy show caused a security alert after coming within yards of George Bush's hotel at a top-level government conference in Australia. The Chaser's War on Everything, which airs on the ABC network, sent a team to the Apec summit in Sydney with spoof security passes saying "joke", "insecurity" and "It's pretty obvious this isn't a real pass".
Their motorcade, which included three cars and two motorcycles carrying Canadian flags, was waved through two police security checkpoints and was only found out when one of the crew hopped out of the car dressed as Osama Bin Laden.
Sydney police described it as a "dangerous stunt", but ABC said the programme had no intention of entering the Apec restricted zone. "Prior to being detained, The Chaser team had no knowledge that they had entered a restricted zone," the national broadcaster said in a joint statement with the programme team.
"The motorcade proceeded down Macquarie Street with the permission of police. When the Chaser reached the perimeter of what they thought was the Apec restricted zone, they voluntarily turned around.
"The police only detained the Chaser motorcade when it was turning around and after Chas Licciardello emerged from a car dressed as Osama bin Laden."
Police commissioner Andrew Csipione of New South Wales police said: "We have snipers deployed around the city. They weren't there for show, they mean business, that's what they are there for."
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer denied that the stunt showed that Apec security was deficient and said the arrest proved security was tight. "Whatever you think of the humour of The Chaser ... they were clearly not going to harm anybody in a physical way," Mr Downer said.
"They presumably were, as is the nature of their show, aiming to humiliate a lot of well-known people.
"In my particular case on this one, I managed not to see them, so it just shows how lucky you can get."
Apec - the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum - has involved the biggest security operation Sydney has ever seen.
The 11 members of the programme team were bailed to appear in court next month after being charged with entering a security area. Police were said to be considering further charges.
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