Australia quietly expelled four Indian spies who targeted politicians and defence tech

Australian officials were secretly troubled after discovering Indian spying activities in 2020 even as Canberra and New Delhi outwardly emphasised strong diplomatic and trade relations

By Agencies
June 20, 2024
An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia. — Reuters/File

CANBERRA: Australia quietly expelled four Indian spies for intelligence activities targeting defence technology, politicians and airport security protocols, according to an investigation by public broadcaster ABC.

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Australian officials were secretly troubled after discovering Indian spying activities in 2020 even as Canberra and New Delhi outwardly emphasised strong diplomatic and trade relations.

The Indian agents were attempting to gain access to sensitive defence technology and airport security protocols, targeting former and current politicians as well as a state police service, and monitoring the Indian Australian community. In 2021, Australia’s intelligence chief, Mike Burgess, revealed that his agency had uncovered a “nest of spies” without naming India. In response, Australia discreetly expelled at least four Indian intelligence agents who had been posing as diplomats.

“We confronted the foreign spies and quietly and professionally removed them,” Mr Burgess said at the time.

“The spies developed targeted relationships with current and former politicians, a foreign embassy and a state police service,” Mr Burgess said in March 2021.

The spies “monitored their country’s diaspora community” and “tried to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships”. They asked a public servant to provide information on security protocols at a major airport,” he said.

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