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Calls grow to name ‘traitor’ politician who ‘sold out’ Australia to a foreign power

In an extraordinary public revelation, Australia’s director general of security Mark Burgess said a spy team from an unnamed country had cultivated and recruited a former Australian politician.

“This politician sold out their country, party and former colleagues to advance the interests of the foreign regime,” the spy chief said in a speech in Canberra on Wednesday.

The unnamed former politician had been recruited “several years ago”, said Burgess, who runs the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

The person had even proposed bringing a prime minister’s family member into the “spies’ orbit”, a plan that did not proceed, he said.

The former politician did, however, organise an overseas conference at which spies posing as bureaucrats targeted participants for recruitment, eventually obtaining security and defence information from an academic, Burgess said.

The remarks unleashed speculation in the media and demands for the former politician to be identified.

“The trouble is, if he does not indicate the name then there is a cloud hanging over everybody else,” conservative opposition leader Peter Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“If you are putting that detail out there as Mr. Burgess has done, I think it is incumbent to either give a little bit more criteria or a little bit more of a hint as to who the person might be.”

Australia is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group that includes the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand – making it a juicy target for operatives from countries such as China and Russia.

Former Australian conservative treasurer Joe Hockey said all lawmakers had been tainted by the revelation.

“The former politician is a traitor,” he told national broadcaster ABC.

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