Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Canberra [Australia], October 20 (ANI/Sputnik): The threat to Australia presented by foreign spies will soon be greater than the challenges it faces from terrorism, Australian intelligence chief Mike Burgess said in a report presented to the country's parliament on Tuesday.

Burgess, who heads the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), warned that foreign agents have stepped up their "sophisticated and wide-ranging" attempts to intervene in the country's internal affairs during the pandemic using modern technology, news agencies said.

"Foreign spies are attempting to obtain classified information about Australia's trade relationships, defence and intelligence capabilities," he was quoted as saying by news agencies.

Given the scope and frequency of such malicious activities, the ASIO chief predicted that espionage cases might soon overtake the threat of terrorism in the country. However, Burgess noted that he did not intend to downplay the latter, as there has been an alarming trend of radicalization of younger people, especially men, in Australia over the recent years.

"At the same time, our investigations into ideologically motivated violent extremists, such as racist and nationalist violent extremists, have grown. During 2020-21, these investigations approached 50 per cent of our onshore priority counterterrorism caseload," he said in the report, as quoted by the broadcaster.

In turn, Australian federal police commissioner, Reece Kershaw, reported that in the past year, 25 people were charged with terrorism, but said these cases were hard to detect as they were mostly committed by lone actors using basic means and weapons, such as knives, vehicles and guns. (ANI/Sputnik)

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