A network of foreign spies "cultivated and recruited" a government security clearance holder with access to secret defence technology information, Australia's top spy has revealed.
The spy nest from a foreign intelligence service was disrupted by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in the past year, leading to them being removed from the country.
Director-General of Security Mike Burgess didn't reveal which country the spies were from, but said it wasn't from within Australia's region.
"The spies developed targeted relationships with current and former politicians, a foreign embassy and a state police service," he said.
"They monitored their country's diaspora community. They tried to obtain classified information about Australia's trade relationships."
The network asked a public servant for information on security protocols at a major airport, as well as cultivating the security clearance holder, Mr Burgess said.
That security clearance was then cancelled following the investigation, he said.
Declining to list an exact number, and only saying "in double figures", Mr Burgess said "in the last twelve months, a significant number of foreign spies and their proxies have either been removed from Australia or rendered inoperative".
ASIO advice also led to a number of visas being denied or cancelled, Mr Burgess said.
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