Australia: Former politician became foreign agent, nation’s spy boss says

AUSTRALIA: A former Australian politician “sold out” the country to a foreign spy network, the nation’s intelligence chief has alleged in a speech.

Outlining the activities of the group dubbed the “A-Team”, Mike Burgess claimed the MP had offered it access to the then-prime minister’s family.

He did not name the person or the country they worked with but said the plot had unfolded “several years ago”.

The claim has rocked Canberra, with some calling for the MP to be unmasked.

While delivering his annual threat assessment in the capital on Wednesday, the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (Asio) chief said the now disbanded A-Team was an “aggressive and experienced” foreign intelligence network which had identified Australia as a “priority target”.

“The spies pose as consultants, head-hunters, local government officials, academics and think tank researchers, claiming to be from fictional companies,” he said.

They targeted an array of people – students, academics, politicians, businesspeople, law enforcement, public servants – offering to pay thousands of dollars for reports on topics including trade, politics, foreign policy, and defence, Mr Burgess said. Information on the Aukus defence pact – which Australia signed with the UK and US – was of particular interest, he added.

 

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