AFP employee targeted by South Korean agent for data

Written By kom nampul on Kamis, 02 Mei 2013 | 22.02

<em>Illustration: Cathy Wilcox</em>

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

An Australian Federal Police staff member sacked after passing on information to spies at the South Korean consulate in Sydney has lost an unfair dismissal case.

Former AFP intelligence worker Bo-Rim Kim was found to have been in contact with a South Korean agent who wanted secret information on Australia's preparations for a major terrorist incident.

The decision in Mr Kim's unfair dismissal case comes after Fairfax revealed that South Korean spies had been caught carrying out economic espionage against Australia and that a senior Canberra public servant had been sacked after being accused of passing sensitive trade information to the "friendly" nation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said on Thursday that the spying revelations would not affect relations between Canberra and Seoul. ''I believe the relationship with the Republic of Korea is so strong, so robust, that this will have no effect on it,'' he said.

Fair Work Australia commissioner Geoffrey Bull found Mr Kim's overwhelming desire to graduate from civilian employee to full-fledged AFP officer led him to compromise his integrity and honesty.

An internal AFP investigation found Mr Kim exchanged emails with a South Korean consular officer, described as a "secret squirrel" and later deported from Australia for espionage, with the official asking for secret information on security responses to a terrorist attack on Sydney airport.

In the end, the only document found to have been handed over was an AFP security clearance form, but Mr Kim was also in trouble with his superiors for passing himself off as a sworn officer and the misuse of an officially issued mobile phone.

Mr Kim's employers began investigating his activities after being approached by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in September 2011.

ASIO urged Federal Police bosses to revoke Mr Kim's security clearance based on "his failure to report his associations with foreign government employees" and "the passing of sensitive information to people he knew or ought to have known were associated with the intelligence services of a foreign government, thereby committed an act of foreign interference against Australia".

The intelligence service also revealed to Mr Kim's employers that he had been thrown out of the NSW Police Academy for dishonesty and had applied unsuccessfully on four occasions to work at ASIO.

He was sacked by the AFP last August after an investigation revealed the level of contact with the South Korean consulate, including having dinner there with officials he knew were involved in intelligence work.

In his internal appeal against his sacking, Mr Kim conceded he passed himself off as a sworn officer out of "pride" and that it had not occurred to him to report some of his contacts with the consulate, where he worked before joining the AFP.

Mr Kim said he had reported the request for the airport security information to his superiors although the AFP has no record of the report.

He said he thought the South Koreans saw him "as an easier point of reference than going through the formal channels of the AFP".

Through his lawyer, Mr Kim told the Fair Work Commission he held out no hope of getting his job back but wanted to be reinstated so he could resign and his sacking would not hinder his future job prospects.

But Mr Bull backed the AFP's decision to fire the worker, finding the dismissal was neither harsh, unjust or unreasonable.


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