Aussie comedy troupe rides 'Canadian' motorcade through APEC summit security

Members of an Australian TV comedy show, one dressed as Osama bin Laden, drove a Canadian-flagged motorcade through two security checkpoints Thursday before being stopped near the hotel where President George W. Bush is staying.

Members of an Australian comedy TV show, one dressed as Osama bin Laden, drove a Canadian-flagged motorcade through two security checkpoints in Sydney Thursday before being stopped neara hotel where U.S. President George W. Bush is staying.

The stunt-embarrassed Sydney police had imposed the tightest security measures in the city's history.The Australian city is hosting a summit of leaders from Pacific Rim countries, including Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who arrived Thursday.

Police arrested 11 cast and crew from the TV program, The Chaser's War on Everything, and impounded three vehicles, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., which airs the show, said on its website.

Cast members put together a sham motorcade, hiring two motorcycles and three large cars on which they put Canadian flags.

Police waved the motorcade through two checkpoints before pulling it over near the Intercontinental Hotel, where Bush is staying.

Cast member Chas Licciardello got out of the car dressed in a white tunic and cap and wearing a long, fake Osama bin Laden-style beard.

"No particular reason we chose Canada," cast member Chris Taylor was quoted as saying on the Sydney Morning Herald's website.

"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."

All 11 were charged under new laws passed a month ago with entering a restricted area of the APEC summit, a police statement said.

They were released on bail and are to appear in court next month. Each faces a potential six-month jail sentence.

Bush is a frequent target of The Chaser, as are Australian politicians. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the stunt proved security was working.

"Whatever you think of the humour of The Chaser, the honest truth is they were clearly not going to harm anybody in a physical way," Downer said.

"They presumably were, as is the nature of their show, aiming to humiliate a lot of well-known people."