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Spy row erupts in Australia over ‘traitor’ politician

March 01, 2024
Australia’s director-general of security Mike Burgess. — AFP File
Australia’s director-general of security Mike Burgess. — AFP File

CANBERRA: Australia’s government faced angry demands on Thursday to name a “traitor” former politician accused by Canberra’s top spy of having “sold out” the country to a foreign power.

In an extraordinary public revelation, Australia’s director general of security Mike Burgess said a spy team from an unidentified country had cultivated and recruited a former Australian politician.

“This politician sold out their country, party and former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime,” the spy chief said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday.Australia is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group that includes the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand — making it a juicy target for operatives from countries such as China and Russia.

Burgess, who runs the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), said the unidentified former politician had been recruited “several years ago”.

The person had even proposed bringing a prime minister’s family member into the “spies’ orbit”, a plan that did not proceed, he said.