Four Indian spies ’quietly’ expelled by Australia for attempting to leak sensitive information

In 2021, Mike Burgess, Australia’s intelligence chief, revealed that a 'nest of spies' had been uncovered without naming India. In response, Australia discreetly expelled at least four Indian intelligence agents allegedly posing as diplomats.

Livemint
First Published19 Jun 2024, 04:17 PM IST
The spies were purportedly trying to gain access to sensitive information on Australia's defence technology and airport security protocols
The spies were purportedly trying to gain access to sensitive information on Australia’s defence technology and airport security protocols(Pixabay)

Australia quietly expelled four Indian spies for attempting to access sensitive information related to the country's defence, politicians and airport security protocols, according to Australia's national broadcaster, ABC.

The spies purportedly tried to gain access to sensitive information on Australia's defence technology and airport security protocols. The report also said that former and current Australian politicians were a target of these spies, along with officers of the state police service and people of the Indian diaspora living in Australia.

Australian officials were troubled after discovering the spy activities in 2020. This is around the same time that Canberra and New Delhi outwardly emphasised strong diplomatic and trade relations.

Also Read | Australia-bound plane shoots fire from engine, lands in New Zealand Airport

In 2021, Mike Burgess, Australia’s intelligence chief, revealed that a “nest of spies” had been uncovered without naming India. In response, Australia discreetly expelled at least four Indian intelligence agents who had been allegedly posing as diplomats.

Also Read | Ex-Brahmos engineer gets life imprisonment for spying for Pakistan ISI

Burgess stated that Australia's intelligence services had confronted the foreign spies and had “quietly and professionally” removed them.

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

The top official said that the spies “monitored their country’s diaspora community” and “tried to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships”.

Also Read | China’s Li Begins Australia Trip With Symbolism Masking Tensions

According to the ABC investigation, the expulsion of the suspected spies was hushed to avoid public embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government, which has sought to project India as a major global player.

Burgess said at the time that the nation behind the spy operation was “not from a country in our region” and that naming it “would be an unnecessary distraction.”

However, Greens Senator David Shoebridge believed Australia should have publicly condemned India for its espionage activities.

Also Read | What to make of China’s massive cyber-espionage campaign

“Not only would’ve it been good to have an honest baseline for our relationship with India, but it would’ve also sent a message to the diaspora communities here that we’ve got your back,” Shoebridge had said.

According to India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quoted by the Washington Post, the allegations made “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations on a serious matter."

ABC noted that the significant number of expelled operatives could equate India with nations like Russia and China, known for their breaches of international protocols. 

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First Published:19 Jun 2024, 04:17 PM IST
HomeNewsFour Indian spies ’quietly’ expelled by Australia for attempting to leak sensitive information

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