Aus smashes S Korean spy ring – report
02 May 2013, 11:43
Sydney - A South Korean spy ring has been uncovered in Australia
trying to cultivate public servants to obtain trade secrets, a report said on Thursday.
The Sydney Morning Herald said previously suppressed
information revealed that South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) had
sought "to obtain sensitive information" on trade negotiations
between Canberra and Seoul.
The Herald reported that the Australian Security
Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) alleged that a senior Australian agricultural
trade specialist was involved in "foreign interference" by the Korean
spies and had been "successfully cultivated".
The man, named by the newspaper, participated in
Australia-South Korea free trade agreement talks in late 2009 but lost his
security clearance and job with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource
Economics and Sciences.
Although engaged in what ASIO described as
"inappropriate activities" harmful to Australia's interests, no South
Korean spies had been expelled from Australia.
Instead, in an effort to maintain good relations with the
NIS, ASIO took legal action to prevent disclosure of the incident and protect
the identities of the South Korean agents.
The details came to light after the trade specialist said
his contact with South Korean diplomats was purely social and appealed against
his sacking to the Federal Court.
In releasing information about the case, the court
identified four NIS officers who served under diplomatic cover in Canberra.
A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Bob Carr declined to
comment on the case.
"It is the longstanding practice of successive
governments not to comment on actual or alleged intelligence matters," she
South Korea is one of Australia's largest export markets and