The Australian lawmaker whose office and home were raided by federal police last week has denied any links with the Chinese Communist Party.
“I am not a suspect in this investigation,” New South Wales state lawmaker Shaoquett Moselmane told reporters in Sydney on Monday. “The investigation is linked to other people allegedly advancing the goals of a foreign government, namely the People’s Republic of China. I am not sure what those goals are.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was conducting a sweeping investigation into allegations Chinese government agents had infiltrated the office of Moselmane. The Australian Federal Police issued a statement confirming it had executed search warrants “as part of an ongoing investigation,” declining to comment further.
Moselmane, a lawmaker with the Labor party, added he had not jeopardized the welfare of Australia and had never visited China on a trip sponsored by Beijing’s government. On Friday, New South Wales Labor leader Jodi McKay said she was moving to suspend him from the party after the “dreadfully concerning” raids.
Australia, a strong ally of the U.S., in 2018 passed an anti-foreign interference law it said was aimed at stopping Beijing’s “meddling”’ in its governments, media and education sector.
Last week’s raids came in the midst of an ongoing diplomatic spat with its largest trading partner, China, after Australia called for an independent probe in the mainland city of Wuhan into the origins of the coronavirus. Since then, Beijing has placed tariffs on Australia’s barley exports, banned beef from four of the nation’s meat plants, and warned its students they could be the subject of racist attacks while studying in the nation.
“The Australian Chinese community has been under sustained political, racial and physical abuse,” Moselmane said on Monday. “Chinese Australians are a humble law-abiding group of citizens who go about their lives in peace, looking after their families and minding their own business.”
On Sunday, the Global Times published an article claiming Australia had been spying on China’s government through the use of diplomatic passports and its embassy in Beijing. It also said Beijing had arrested a group of Australian agents in 2018.
Asked about the veracity of the article by a reporter on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded with: “I wouldn’t be relying on Chinese state media for your sources for questions.”
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