Former politician was working with foreign spies: ASIO

Who is the former politician accused of spying on Australia? ASIO revealed that a former politician "sold out their country" this week.
Who is the former politician accused of spying on Australia?

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has revealed a former Australian politician worked with a foreign spy group.

ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess said the unnamed person “sold out their country, party and former colleagues” by agreeing to share knowledge from inside Parliament in exchange for payment.

During his annual threat assessment address on Wednesday night, Burgess said the anonymous politician was recruited by an overseas agency.

There are now calls for their identity to be revealed.

The former politician accused of spying on Australia

Burgess said “several years ago” a former politician unsuccessfully attempted to bring a prime minister’s family member into a spy network — referred to by ASIO as the ‘A-Team’.

In a separate incident, the A-Team recruited an Australian academic and an aspiring politician at an overseas conference. The pair did not know they were meeting with members of a spy group.

Some Australians involved with the A-Team were unaware that they were working with foreign spies when confronted by ASIO. Burgess said others knew the group’s intentions.

ASIO’s response to foreign spy group

ASIO sent an undercover officer to pose as someone the A-Team thought they were grooming to join their group.

ASIO eventually confronted the group directly last year. It was warned of further consequences if they continued their attempts at foreign interference.

Burgess hoped his mention of the A-Team in his speech would strip them of their secrecy. He hoped it would “shine a disinfecting light on the tactics our adversaries use”, to prevent similar actions in future.

Foreign interference

Last year, ASIO worked with police to intercept a planned attack by a foreign government on an Australian critic.

ASIO said it is also aware of tests by one country targeting vulnerabilities of Australia’s cybersecurity, including water, transport and energy networks.

It said it believed the tests could be used to plan future attacks on local networks.

Who is the former politician accused of spying on Australia?

Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson told Sky News he had a “fair idea” about the identity of the former politician referenced by Burgess.

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey called on Burgess to name the politician, saying he could otherwise “potentially smear everyone who has served their country”.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government was taking a “proactive approach” to countering foreign interference, and maintaining a focus against threats of terrorism and violence triggered by global conflict.

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