Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Uncovering the Secrets of Australia’s Echelon Surveillance Project

In his 40-year career as a journalist, Western Australia’s Gary Adshead has pursued the truth – no matter how ugly, how dangerous, or how ridiculous. One of the biggest stories of his career involved uncovering the secrets of Australia’s involvement in the global surveillance project known as Echelon.

The Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, located in Kojarena, Western Australia, plays a significant role in Echelon. Commissioned in 1987 by former defence minister Kim Beazley, the base was strategically positioned to monitor satellites orbiting Earth. It became part of a network of bases in New Zealand, England, the United States, and Canada, providing blanket satellite interception capability across the planet.

The base’s top-secret work involved monitoring the satellite communications of countries like China, Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea. It gained attention when it was revealed that the powerful data collection technology was also being used to spy on ordinary citizens in the search for intelligence-gathering keywords.

In 2001, the European Parliament confirmed the existence of Echelon and raised concerns about threats to privacy and businesses due to its largely legislation-free operation. Adshead came across documents on the website Cryptome that revealed the Australian connection to Echelon.

Determined to uncover the truth, Adshead visited the Kojarena base and observed its operations from both the air and the ground. He saw the large white radomes, which protected the satellite antennas from both the elements and prying eyes. The enormity of the base was captured in aerial photographs and the close-up view of the main gates.

Adshead’s investigation shed light on the extent of Australia’s involvement in Echelon and the potential invasion of privacy it posed. His reporting contributed to the public’s awareness of the global surveillance system and the need for more oversight and regulations.

Through his dedication to uncovering the truth, Adshead demonstrated the importance of investigative journalism in holding institutions accountable and informing the public about matters of national and international significance.