An Australian businessman accused of sharing information on AUKUS submarine program with the Chinese in exchange for cash has been arrested.
Magistrate Michael Barko said the 55-year-old man, Alexander Csergo, had been on the radar of Australian intelligence for some time before his arrest on April 14, Reuters has reported.
Csergo had lived in China for decades and returned to Australia only this year after two people, allegedly agents for China’s Ministry of State Security, asked him to collect confidential data.
Csergo had been allegedly asked to handwrite reports about Australia's AUKUS defense technology partnership with the United States and Britain, the QUAD diplomatic partnership, iron ore and lithium mining, Barko said.
The prosecution said it had a “strong case” against the businessman and denied bail.
Csergo had told Australian intelligence agents in an interview that when he met the two “agents” in Shanghai cafes and restaurants, the establishments had been empty and he suspected they had been cleared. He claimed to have developed a high level of anxiety and was in “survival mode.” He exchanged around 3,300 WeChat messages with the pair, and had accepted cash payments in envelopes.