Eleven people have been arrested in a TV stunt which sparked a major APEC security scare.
Members of the television show The Chaser are believed to be responsible for the stunt.
They had assembled their own motorcade with two black wagons surrounding a luxury hire car, with an Australian and Canadian flag on the window.
The group managed to pass two security checkpoints, as they approached the InterContinental hotel where US President George W Bush is staying.
When the procession was then stopped by police entering a red zone on the corner of Macquarie and Bent streets, one of the comedians jumped out from the convoy – reportedly dressed as Osama bin Laden.
All eleven in the group have been arrested, but the incident is a major embarrassment for police who will now begin trying to work out how the group were able to get so close.
Chaser stunt leaves officials red-faced
6th September 2007, 17:28 WST
It was a comedy TV stunt, but red-faced authorities guarding APEC leaders in Sydney could not see the funny side.
A team from the satirical ABC TV program The Chaser's War on Everything breached the multi-million dollar APEC security operation by driving a fake motorcade through security checkpoints.
The convoy of three black cars, decked out to resemble an official Canadian motorcade, came within metres of the hotel where US President George W Bush is staying, before finally being pulled over by authorities.
Eleven people were arrested, including The Chaser's Chas Licciardello, who sat in the back of one of the cars dressed as Osama bin Laden.
Also arrested was The Chaser's Julian Morrow, who posed as a security guard running alongside the motorcade.
Police were on Thursday night considering whether to lay charges against The Chaser team members, who were being held at a Sydney police station with ABC lawyers and management present.
Those arrested could face jail time if convicted of breaching a restricted area under APEC legislation.
NSW police were furious about the bold prank.
"I don't see a funny side to what's happened today. I don't see a funny side at all," said NSW Police Minister David Campbell.
He said The Chaser production team had disregarded specific requests from police not to go too far in their pursuit of satire.
"I'm extremely concerned people would take the sense of security so lightly."
Chaser member Craig Reucassel responded later, telling the Nine Network: "There's about 40,000 people there - they should be able to handle it."
Labor leader Kevin Rudd said given the heightened security environment in Sydney, the Chaser team had "crossed the line".
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the arrest of the 11 showed security worked.
He added, smiling,:"Whatever you think of the humour of The Chaser...they were clearly not going to harm anybody in a physical way."
The mammoth security operation breached by the comedians accounts for $170 million of the $330 million bill for the APEC summit.
"I'm not embarrassed at all, what I am is very angry that such a stunt like this would be pulled," NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Dave Owens said.
When asked if security would now be boosted, Mr Owens appeared to contradict himself.
"We have brought in some other measures (but) they are not over and above what we are doing," he said.
The Chaser stunt came as more dignitaries flew into Sydney for the APEC leaders' summit, including leaders from Hong Kong, Chile, Canada, Vietnam, Korea and Papua New Guinea.
The influx of leaders meant there were more than 100 motorcade movements in Sydney throughout the day, with even more expected from Friday, when all 21 leaders will be in Sydney.
Security hits its highest level and Sydney will enter its final stage of lockdown at 6am (AEST) on Friday until 11pm Sunday.
The restricted zone in the north of the city will be extended from Bridge Street into Pitt Street and the fence around the zone will remain completely closed during that time.
Police have promised to stop and search anyone in areas near the restricted zone and apply the full force of their new powers.
NSW Deputy Premier John Watkins urged people to stay away from Sydney during Friday's APEC public holiday and the weekend.
Protesters today turned their attention to President Hu, with 450 people gathering in Hyde Park to demonstrate against China's human rights record.
Police originally refused to let the protesters march on the street to Belmore Park but backed down when faced with a mass of people taking to the footpaths.
Around 50 police, including several on trail bikes, closed one lane of traffic on Elizabeth Street to allow the marchers safe passage.