Australia’s top intelligence official revealed that the country has purged a number of “highly trained” spies that have operated in the country for years.
“They were good – but ASIO was better. We watched them. We mapped their activities. We mounted an intense and sustained campaign of operational activity,” Mike Burgess, chief of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), said Thursday. “Working with our partners, we removed them. The hive is history.”
“ASIO is… busier than any time in our 74-year history. Busier than the Cold War, busier than 9/11, busier than the height of the caliphate,” Burgess added. “From where I sit, it looks like hand-to-hand combat.”
Burgess did not identify the country behind the operation, but he revealed plenty of details, such as how the spies aimed to manipulate and influence media coverage in a “concerted campaign,” the BBC reported.
The operation included “repeated attempts to hack into scores of Australian media outlets” to unmask sources critical of the foreign government.
One of the operatives would offer journalists all-expense-paid tours to a foreign country where other operatives could gain information for leverage, while others would study and try to seduce journalists, as well as judges and other officials.
Burgess highlighted a more troubling element of the operation that focused on targeting dissidents of the home nation, which included plans to physically harm targets.
“In one case, the intelligence service started monitoring a human rights activist and plotted to lure the target offshore, where the individual could be – quote – ‘disposed of’,” he said. “In another, a lackey was dispatched to locate specific dissidents and – quote – ‘deal with them’.”
H/T Fox News (read more at FoxNews.com)
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