Australia announced that it has busted a network of spies in the country which has been active for the past few years. Mike Burgess, the Director of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization or ASIO, announced this bust. According to the agency, these spies were working undercover and possessed exceptional training. Mr. Burgess said that the group used to first study their target and then used to lure them into their traps. This group of spies targeted various judges, journalists, and veterans in the country to gather intelligence.
The Director of ASIO said that this bust showed the size of the spying threat Australia is facing. He also highlighted an ongoing spying campaign that was planned to take over the Australian media network. This plan intended to get access to media networks in the country and gain information on the sources of information provided to the media houses. Mr. Burgess said that as a part of this plan, these spying operations used to offer a fully-supported study tour to Australian journalists into foreign countries. Once these journalists used to travel to these foreign countries, spies used to take advantage of their home ground to extort information from them.
Mr.Burgess also talked about another such plan in which two distinct countries tried to physically attack Australian civilians, This was tried just a week after Australia announced that it has successfully tracked down an Iranian plot that targeted a dissident, someone who opposes a certain policy, residing in Australia. However, in both cases, Mr.Burgess did not name the countries which were involved in carrying out such operations in Australia. But he did say that the people who had been targeted under these operations were active against social issues. This is why there were many cases where human activists and dissidents were being targeted in Australia. He said that ASIO successfully tracked down these spies despite them being well-trained to carry out any disposal operations.
Although the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization was able to track down these spies active in the country, the threat of future spy operations is still higher in the country. Because of this, the ASIO has been actively keeping an eye on suspicious activities in the country. Mr. Burgess stated that after signing the Aukus security agreement with the UK and the US, the threat of foreign surveillance activities has increased in Australia. These operations have indeed increased the workload on the ASIO, as the organization has to continuously stay on its toes to track down possible spying activities.
The country has been taking many steps to track down spying activities and to reduce threats to Australian citizens. Recently, the US tracked and shot down the Chinese weather balloon which was suspected to conduct spying activities in US airspace. As a result of this news, Australia announced that it will be removing all the Chinese surveillance cameras installed at defense sites over the possibility of getting tracked by Chinese surveillance agencies. Mr. Burgess also called out Australians who are constantly posting their activities on social media sites, thus allowing easy access to spying agencies.