Australian authorities are investigating whether a Chinese postdoctoral student who recently worked at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) laboratory in Melbourne actually accessed unauthorized sensitive data at the Organisation's nanotechnology laboratory. The laboratory works closely with Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the focus of the intelligence probe is to determine whether the man sent CSIRO information to a foreign power.
The findings will further test Australia's relations with China which has been understrain recently, after Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop expressed concern over Beijing's declaration of an "air defense zone" over disputed territory.
"CSIRO became aware of a matter involving an employee suspected of unauthorised use of CSIRO computers," the laboratory said in a statement.
"We consider this a very serious matter," it added, without giving any further details.
Intelligence officials in Australia had recently warned of the growing threat of industrial espionage.
"The CSIRO became aware of a matter involving an employee suspected of unauthorised use of CSIRO computers," Guardian Australia reported quoting CSIRO Spokesman Huw Morgan.
"We consider this a very serious matter and have referred it to the Australian federal police. It is not appropriate for us to release any further details at this time," Morgan said.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the man's alleged activities were understood to have been detected last week by the agency's internal security.
The Australian Federal Police said investigation about the matter was ongoing.
It added no one has been arrested yet and no charges have been laid.
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