The Australian federal police obtained preventative detention orders for at least three people before the counter-terrorism raids in New South Wales, in what may be the first time the anti-terrorism powers have been used.

A spokesman for the AFP confirmed late on Friday that three men had been detained under the orders following the raids and had now been released without charge.

Preventative detention orders formed part of a tranche of anti-terrorism powers granted over a decade ago, and can be sought to detain people for lengthy periods of time without charge.

The AFP spokesman said in a statement: “Three men have been released from police custody this afternoon following the expiration of three Preventative Detention Orders (PDOs) issued under NSW legislation.

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