The Australian government was “indirectly aware” of a situation at its Bangkok embassy months before a man was arrested when spy cameras were found in female bathrooms.
First reported by the ABC on February 5, a foreign affairs official confirmed a locally engaged employee at the embassy was arrested by the Royal Thai Police on January 6.
The ABC report states multiple cameras were discovered in the embassy’s bathrooms after an SD card containing images of female staff was found on a bathroom floor.
Chief Operating Officer Adrian Hudson said the man’s employment ended on the day he was arrested and while initial inquiries were made on the Australian side, the matter was being investigated by Thai police.
“The first time we became aware of it, and I’ll use the term indirectly, was I believe in August,” he said when asked when the embassy became aware of the hidden camera.
“However, at that time the extent of the matters was not understood.”
Mr Hudson continued with “there was a piece of equipment …”, before being cut off by Foreign Minister Marise Payne who said the department shouldn’t go into the details of the ongoing investigation.
Mr Hudson said the investigation was limited to the individual and Australian authorities would cooperate with local police, including facilitating access to the embassy if needed.
Senator Payne said the department has no tolerance for “this sort of appalling behaviour”.
It appears security protocols at the embassy have also been reviewed.
“It’s fair to say when an incident occurs, whether it be of this nature or any nature, we take that as an opportunity to re-examine our risk assessments, our protocols and processes and we look for opportunities to make improvements,” Mr Hudson said.
A range of counselling and support services were provided to embassy staff.