Canberra spy link to MI6 alleged

A POLITICAL storm swirled yesterday over allegations that Australian spies have been used by MI6 to gather intelligence for Britain in Hong Kong, Kuwait and Argentina and that the CIA offered to assassinate an Australian diplomat who blew a spy's cover.

MPs in Canberra yesterday demanded that Australia's Labor government hold a judicial inquiry into the claims, which formed part of a series of allegations about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Asis), the equivalent of MI6, made by two former spies on Monday night. Gareth Evans, the Foreign Minister, rejected the calls and refused to discuss the allegations. The two former Asis men, identified as Officer One and Officer Two, were interviewed in shadow profile for an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme. They claimed Australian interests had been jeopardised by Asis's actions on behalf of MI6 during the Falklands war, in the aftermath of the Gulf war and in Hong Kong.

According to the former spies Asis has been responsible for planting the bugs used for much of the intelligence gathered for MI6 in Hong Kong, while the Australian intelligence services probably gained no benefit. They claimed Asis played a critical role during the Falklands war in 1982 by acting as an intelligence link between British agents in Argentina and MI6 in London. They said the Asis operation was so risky that Argentina would have closed down Australia's embassy in Buenos Aires if it had discovered the link. After the Gulf war in 1991, they claimed, an Asis technician was used by MI6 to bug Kuwaiti government offices when Britain was competing for business contracts to help rebuild Kuwait. Officer One described how he was posted to Cairo in 1983, allegedly to help Britain after a 'disaster' for MI6 in Baghdad. He said that some British spies had been seized in Baghdad and forced to watch their local agents hanged by their testicles and murdered. He said the CIA offered to murder an Australian diplomat who exposed an Asis agent in Cairo.

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