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MEA declines to comment on media reports that Australia expelled two Indian spies

Australian media had reported that Canberra expelled two Indian spies for allegedly trying to steal secrets about sensitive defence projects, airport security and classified information on trade ties.

MEANEW DELHI: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday refused to comment on Australian media reports that alleged that the island nation had expelled two Indian spies who were trying to “steal secrets” and termed them “speculative reports.”

“We see them as speculative reports. We really have no comments to make on those reports,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Earlier, Australian media reported that Canberra expelled two Indian spies after being caught trying to steal secrets about sensitive defence projects and airport security, as well as classified information on Australia’s trade relationships.

ABC News reported that the foreign “nest of spies” disrupted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2020 was also accused of closely monitoring Indians living here and developing close relationships with current and former politicians.

ABC News reported that ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess hinted at a spy ring during his annual threat assessment in 2021 but did not reveal the country involved, stating that doing so would cause an “unnecessary distraction.”

“The spies developed targeted relationships with current and former politicians, a foreign embassy and a state police service,” Burgess said during his March 2021 speech inside ASIO’s Canberra headquarters.

“They monitored their country’s diaspora community. They tried to obtain classified information about Australia’s trade relationships. They asked a public servant to provide information on security protocols at a major airport,” ABC reported.

On Wednesday, when asked about the matter, Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong reaffirmed bilateral ties with India and said that Australia remains consistent with its interests and values of engagement, adding that they don’t comment on intelligence matters.

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