Mon, Jun 06, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Spy network allegation `fabricated' Beijing says

RED EYES A former Chinese diplomat in who requested asylum in Australia says a massive spy ring is working there, but Beijing denied the claim

AFP , SYDNEY

China's consulate in Sydney yesterday accused a former diplomat of fabricating stories about a massive Beijing-run spy network in Australia in a bid to support his application for asylum in the country.

thousands of spies

Chen Yonglin, 37, a former political consul at China's consulate in Sydney, fled his job last month and said at a rally on Saturday that a ring of up to 1,000 spies operating in Australia had kidnapped individuals and repatriated them to China.

The Sydney consulate said Chen had reached the end of his four-year stint in Australia and was making up stories because he did not want to return to China.

"To achieve the aim of staying in Australia, Chen Yonglin fabricated stories, which are unfounded and purely fictitious," the consulate said in a statement.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said Chen's asylum application would not receive special treatment from officials in Canberra.

Vanstone also refused to comment on statements that Australian officials had warned him his actions "will cause serious consequences," possibly impacting on Canberra's burgeoning trade relationship with Beijing.

"Any of these applications are handled individually and they're handled on their merit and this one will be handled in the normal way," she told Channel Ten television. "Each application is considered individually on its merits."

exceptional case?

Green Party senator Bob Brown said Australia needed to act on Chen's allegations that an extensive network of spies in the country had kidnapped individuals and repatriated them to China.

Brown said Chen feared he would be persecuted if he were forced to return to China, and needed special protection.

"Giving him ordinary processing here is simply inadequate," he told ABC radio yesterday. "This is a diplomat who has spoken up in Australia and is alleging crimes against Australia. He must be given special assistance, special protection and special treatment."

Chen's asylum application comes as the Australian and Chinese governments work towards establishing a bilateral free trade agreement worth an estimated A$24.4 billion (US$18.5 billion) to the Australian economy over a 10-year period.

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