The head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Mike Burgess, has expressed his concern over the commentary surrounding the motives and ideologies behind terrorist incidents. He believes that society is too quick to assign blame without conducting careful and nuanced work to disentangle groups and individuals who may have awful views, but are still lawful. During his Annual Threat Assessment speech, Burgess revealed that ASIO recently disrupted a “hive of spies” that had been implanted in society for many years. He also highlighted the agency’s more aggressive counter-espionage posture and warned of the danger of foreign intelligence services aggressively seeking secrets from government, research, defence, and a range of professions. Burgess noted that foreign spies had even been posing as diplomats or reporters to engage and influence journalists. He also said that there had been a discernable and concerning uptick in activities targeting the media industry, with repeated attempts to hack into scores of Australian media outlets. Burgess concluded by saying that words, facts, and actions matter, and that if the community gets the diagnosis wrong, it will be difficult to find a cure.
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