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Australian spy building remains secure, PM says

May 29, 2013 at 12:05 AM   |   Comments

CANBERRA, Australia, May 29 (UPI) -- Australia won't dump its nearly completed spy agency headquarters in Canberra and start building over again, despite allegations Chinese Internet hackers stole the building's blueprints.

Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus went on the offensive over the allegations, saying there won't be a reconfiguration of the new offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

ASIO was set up in 1949 and is responsible to the Parliament of Australia through the attorney general.

Government documents available publicly in the Parliamentary Library online show the government set aside funds for a new building for ASIO in 2005. The resulting building is a five-story, energy-efficient curved structure that can accommodate up to 1,800 employees.

The allegations of an attack originating on a Chinese server were made in a "Four Corners" television program by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "Four Corners" is Australia's longest running investigative journalism series.

China also rejected any connection to the alleged attack.

"Four Corners" examined Chinese cyberattacks, claiming they managed to get into files of top secret detailed blueprints.

The plans reportedly showed details of complex electrical and electronic cabling, security and communications systems as well as floor plans, a report by The Australian newspaper said.

"The ASIO building is going to be open and occupied in the second half of this year," Dreyfus said. "I can assure absolutely everybody that this building is a very secure state-of-the-art facility."

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr also denied security was or will be breached, The Australian report said.

"We don't want to share with the world and potential aggressors what we know about what they might be doing and how they might be doing it," Carr said.

"It's got absolutely no implications for a strategic partnership. We have enormous areas of cooperation with China."

ABC reported that Prime Minister Julia Gillard also went on the defensive and told Parliament that the "Four Corners" report had "a number of unsubstantiated" allegations.

"As the attorney general has stated neither he nor the director general of ASIO intend to comment further on these inaccurate reports in accordance with the longstanding practice of both sides of politics not to comment on very specific intelligence matters," she said.

ABC also reported that the Chinese government rejected the "Four Corners" report accusations.

"China opposes all forms of hacker attacks. This is a worldwide problem," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

"Though these reports seem solid, given that it is difficult to find the origin of such hacker attacks, I don't see where the real evidence is for reports like this. This is a global problem which needs an even-tempered discussion involving regulations. Groundless accusations will not help solve this issue," Hong said.

The ASIO building already was mired in controversy, being $170 million more than its $630 million budget, ABC reported.

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