Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has defended moving asylum seekers involved in legal action against the federal government from Sydney to remote Western Australia the day before their case is due to be heard in court.
A spokesperson for Mr Morrison said that the detention centre network was not run at ''the convenience'' of asylum seekers or activists.
A lawyer representing the asylum seekers has accused the Department of Immigration of interfering with the judicial process by transferring 83 asylum seekers from Villawood detention centre to the Curtin detention centre.
Some of the asylum seekers due to be transferred on Thursday have taken legal action against the federal government over a data breach that saw their personal details published on the Department of Immigration's website.
Under refugee law, the identification of a person seeking protection can result, in and of itself, in that person being granted refugee status.
On Wednesday afternoon lawyers will seek an injunction at the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Sydney to stop the 83 asylum seekers being moved.
Michaela Byers, a solicitor representing many of the Villawood detainees, said: ''We're requesting an injunction to keep our clients in Sydney. We can't get instructions if the clients are on the other side of the continent with no telephone interpreters.
''There is only one landline in the centre manager's phone. It's outrageous – they are interfering with the judicial process and my clients' rights. I find it so disturbing.''
Ms Byers said the asylum seekers – who come mostly from Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – were given letters on Monday telling them they would be transferred to Curtin because of renovations at Villawood.
Ms Byers said the asylum seekers should have been placed in temporary community accommodation in Sydney rather than moved to Western Australia.
She said the impending transfer had caused distress among the asylum seekers and their families, who feel they are being sent to a ''hell on earth'' with no return date.
A spokesperson for Mr Morrison said: "The detention network is not run at the convenience of asylum seeker activists and detainees. It is run to optimise its management for both government and the taxpayer.
"The Villawood Immigration Detention Centre will be undergoing refurbishment works from May 2014.
"For building work to happen, some detainees will need to be moved out of the Villawood centre. Detainees will be transferred to other detention facilities in Australia to enable the refurbishment works to be completed.
"The department will facilitate ongoing engagement and communication between detainees and legal representatives or the courts as required.
"Decisions on whether people are returned to Villawood will be made at a future point.''
Ms Byers said the injunction hearing would be held at the Federal Circuit Court on Wednesday morning. While it is common for criminal lawyers to insist their clients are in proximity, she said this was an unusual case in the migration area.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department will brief Mr Morrison on Wednesday on the lastest findings into the death of asylum seeker Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre.
The department has received an interim report into the violence at the detention centre last month that left the 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker dead.
It comes as Mr Morrison prepares to visit Papua New Guinea this week for an update from local police on the progress of investigations into the incident.
A spokesperson for Mr Morrison said he would be briefed on the progress report, adding the government was following the same processes as Labor did when the Nauru centre was burned down last year.
''The final report will be released, consistent with those same processes,'' the spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson said Labor did not release the report into the riot at Nauru in July 2013 until after the election, and had delayed other similar reports.
A review into the violence at the Manus Island centre is being conducted by former secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Robert Cornall.
Labor has been pushing for the release of the interim report, arguing the government must take all precautions to prevent any future incidents.
''(The government) now needs to release the report to make sure whatever safeguards are needed can be put in place to avoid such a tragic incident occurring again,'' opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said.
The government has also been criticised for not sending Australian police to assist PNG with the investigation.