Skip to comments.Australia probes report military spied on minister (had ties to China-born businesswoman)
Posted on 03/26/2009 9:16:50 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
MELBOURNE (AFP) Australia's military launched an investigation Thursday into allegations that officers spied on the defence minister and leaked details of his ties to a China-born businesswoman.
Defence chiefs ordered the probe after Fairfax newspapers reported the military's intelligence arm accessed Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon's office computer system as part of a covert sweep into his private life.
Defence officials, whom Fitzgibbon recently accused of being incompetent, then leaked information about his friendship with Beijing-born businesswoman Helen Liu to suggest the minister may be a security risk, the reports said.
After initially denying accepting any gifts other than small birthday presents from Liu, Fitzgibbon late Thursday was forced to apologise and reveal he had failed to declare two trips to China paid for by the businesswoman.
"These trips were paid for by Ms Helen Liu either personally or through her associated commercial interests," Fitzgibbon said in a statement released by his office.
"I failed to disclose those trips. This was a mistake and for that I apologise," he said, adding he had taken immediate steps to declare the trips in 2002 and 2005 to the appropriate parliamentary authorities.
The allegations of spying on the minister came after a series of clashes between Fitzgibbon and the military brass, the most recent involving a bungle over pay for soldiers in the elite Special Air Service (SAS).
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard later ordered Fitzgibbon to apologise for the failure to declare the trips, but said she still had confidence in him.
...so I guess his apology did not really come voluntarily...:^)
Sounds more like an "Oops, I got caught deal".
I'd hit that.
No way would I hit that. No way, no how.
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