In spite of Iranian denials, the Australian government admits it is “concerned” by Iran’s ongoing espionage activities.
A spokeswoman for Australia’s Home Affairs Department told Iran International: “Last year, the Australian Government made it clear that it is concerned by reports of harassment and monitoring of people in Australia by foreign governments, including Iran.”
Earlier this month, The Australian Financial Review published an interview with the Islamic Republic’s Ambassador to Australia, Ahmad Sadeghi, during which he rejected claims by Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil that the Iranian government had been spying on dissidents in Australia, insisting they were safe from harm or kidnapping.
However, last year, O’Neil revealed that Australia had disrupted the activities of suspected Iranian intelligence who had conducted surveillance of the home of an Iranian-Australian dissident, as well as their family, part of a wider global crackdown in the wake of the 2022 uprising.
“I just want to step back and say this again: we have here someone living in our country who is being followed, watched, photographing their home invaded by people at the direction of a foreign power. This is happening in Australia, and this is something ASIO was onto like a shot,” O’Neil said last year.
And the threat does not seem to have disappeared. “Espionage and foreign interference represent a serious threat to Australia’s security and the integrity of our national institutions,” the Department of Home Affairs told Iran International this week.
While stressing it is not only Iran which represents a threat, other nations such as China are equally troubling, the spokeswoman added: “It is unacceptable for any foreign government to target members of our community in ways that prevent individuals exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms in Australia. We will continue to take strong action to deter foreign interference, protect the Australian community and uphold our laws and values.”
Tina Kordrostami, an Australian-Iranian woman, spoke out about her own ordeal after experiencing harassment on Australian soil by a suspected regime agent in December 2022 amidst the protests.
Not only was she followed, but a strange man got into her car while stationary, issuing threats.
Kordrostami’s father also started receiving threats against her life, and she found herself under surveillance, with unidentified men taking photographs of her during rallies and public events.
After she made the revelations to Iran International, several other Australian-Iranians since broke their silence, highlighting how the Iranian regime monitors their activities in Australia. This has raised concerns among the community, who are now demanding protection from the Australian government.
While Australia has been among the nations to sanction Iran in the wake of both the brutal crackdown of protesters since 2022, and Iran’s arming Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, it has not stepped up to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which has had foreign plots foiled in countries from the UK to Cyprus and Azerbaijan.
The Australian Shadow Assistant Foreign Minister expressed disappointment in November that Australia has not listed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that governments like Australia have not yet listed Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization up to this point,” she told Iran International, not least for its backing of regional proxies such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon and its destabilizing effects now felt across the Middle East and beyond.