Australian man Alexander Csergo, 55, was arrested in Bondi this week, following a joint ASIO and Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce investigation. He is charged with selling Australian defence and security secrets to foreign spies.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege an individual contacted Mr Csergo via social media while he was overseas and arranged for him to meet with two representatives, known to Mr Csergo as “Ken” and “Evelyn”.
The AFP said the two individuals offered him payment for information about Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements as well as matters relating to other countries. Police allege the two individuals were foreign intelligence officers.
“[They] offered the man money to obtain information about Australian defence, economic and national security arrangements, plus matters relating to other countries,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett said.
Court documents show the alleged offences occurred in Shanghai, China and NSW.
The dangers of selling national defence secrets
The danger of selling national defense secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can have severe and far-reaching consequences. Potential risks include:
- National Security Threat: Selling national defence secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can compromise a country’s national security by providing sensitive information that may be used against the country. This can include classified information about military capabilities, strategies, operations, and technologies, which can be exploited by foreign governments or entities to gain an advantage over the victim country.
- Loss of Strategic Advantage: National defence secrets often include classified information related to a country’s strategic advantage, such as advanced military technologies, intelligence gathering methods, or covert operations. Selling these secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can result in a loss of strategic advantage, as the foreign entity gains insights and knowledge that can be used to neutralize or counter the victim country’s military capabilities.
- Diplomatic Consequences: Selling national defence secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can strain diplomatic relations between countries. It can lead to mistrust, suspicion, and deteriorating bilateral relations, potentially resulting in diplomatic fallout, economic sanctions, or even military conflicts.
- Legal Consequences: Selling national defence secrets is often illegal and can result in serious legal consequences, including criminal charges, imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture of assets. It can also have long-lasting personal and professional consequences, such as damage to reputation, loss of security clearance, and difficulty in finding future employment.
- Endangering Lives: National defence secrets may also include classified information related to the safety and well-being of military personnel, intelligence operatives, and other individuals involved in national security efforts. Selling such secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can endanger lives by exposing covert operations, compromising undercover agents, or revealing sensitive information that can be used to harm individuals or their families.
- Economic Consequences: National defence secrets often involve cutting-edge military technologies, research, and development efforts that have significant economic value. Selling these secrets to foreign intelligence individuals can result in economic loss for the victim country, as the stolen information may be used to develop competing technologies, resulting in lost business opportunities, decreased competitiveness, and reduced economic growth.
Selling national defence secrets to foreign intelligence individuals poses significant risks to national security, strategic advantage, diplomatic relations, legal consequences, lives, and the economy of the country. It is a serious offense with severe consequences that can have long-term and wide-ranging impacts.
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Author: Lisa Seltzer, Agilient Consultant