According to its intelligence chief, Australia has uncovered a "hive" of spies that had been operating there for years.
The undercover agents appeared to be "highly trained," according to Mike Burgess, who did not name the countries operating the network.
Judges, journalists, and veterans would all be among the targets the group would research and "potentially seduce," he said.
He continued, "It shows the threat posed by foreign spies is at an all-time high.".
The head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (Asio), who presented his annual threat assessment in Canberra, described a "concerted campaign" to infiltrate the media in Australia in order to influence reporting and gather information on sources.
He claimed that spies with the "home-ground advantage" intended to "identify any vulnerabilities that could be leveraged later" by offering journalists all-expenses-paid study tours of a foreign nation.
He also described how plans to physically harm Australian citizens from two different nations were foiled. He claimed the targets were people who opposed foreign regimes.
In one instance, the intelligence service began keeping tabs on a human rights advocate and devised a plan to entice the target offshore so that they could be, quote, "disposed of," he said.
"In a different instance, a lackey was sent out to find a particular dissident and, quote, "deal with them. ".
Following an "intense and sustained" campaign, Mr. Burgess claimed that Asio had destroyed the spy network.
Although they were good, Asio was superior. Together with our partners, we got rid of them. He declared, "The hive is history.
However, Mr. Burgess noted that since Australia ratified the AUKUS security pact with the US and the UK, the threat posed by foreign intelligence has gotten worse.
Is Asio. the busiest period in our 74-year history. more active than the Cold War, more active than 9/11, and more active than the Caliphate's heyday. ".
It appears to be hand-to-hand combat from where I am sitting. ".
It is crucial that "our allies know we can keep our secrets, and keep their secrets," continued Mr. Burgess.