Espionage in Australia greater than during Cold War: Intelligence

Sydney, Australia, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- The levels of espionage in Australia are higher than during the Cold War, according to the head of Australia’s Intelligence Agency.

Michael Burgess also said Tuesday that the novel coronavirus pandemic is stoking the activity of far-right groups.

“There are more spies and foreign agents operating against Australian interests than when there were at the height of the Cold War,” the head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization told a Senate scrutiny committee in Canberra.

Burgess said unidentified nations seek to steal state secrets, manipulate government policies and attempt to “implant political dubious at all levels of government to advance the interests of foreign countries.”

Despite Burgess not mentioning specific countries, the Australian government has investigated several cases of alleged infiltration, political interference and cyberattacks allegedly originating from China, which the country has always denied.

In November, Burgess’ predecessor, Duncan Lewis, said in an interview with the newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald that China’s interference in the country’s politics was to “take over” the Australian political system through its “insidious “espionage and interference operations.

In one of the latest incidents, Australian Police and the secret service searched the home and office of New South Wales State Legislative Representative Shaoquett Moselmane in June, suspected of being part of an alleged Chinese interference scheme.

Following the Moselmane case, authorities also searched the homes of four Chinese journalists.

The Chinese Communist Party’s alleged ties with legislator Gladys Liu of the ruling coalition, stirred the Canberra political climate last year, which in 2018 saw Labor Senator Sam Dastyari resign when his ties with Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo, linked to Beijing, came to light.

Burgess also told the committee that the activities of far-right groups have increased, especially among young people and generally via the internet.

The head of Australian intelligence said that up to 40 percent of counter-terrorism investigations focus on far-right people, compared to 15 percent of investigations that occurred before 2016.

“They (the extreme right) see the pandemic as proof of the failure of globalization, multiculturalism and democracy, and as confirmation of social collapse and that the ‘race war’ is inevitable,” he said. EFE-EPA


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