25 May 2011

Vanuatu expels Australian government lawyer for espionage

3:11 pm on 25 May 2011

Vanuatu has expelled an Australian lawyer working for the Vanuatu government after accusing him of espionage.

The newspaper, The Australian, says Ari Jenshel was made to leave after the Australian government was warned he faced imminent arrest over his activities as senior adviser in the office of the Attorney-General in Port Vila.

Mr Jenshel has rejected the accusations, saying they are all politics and a smear campaign.

Among claims being investigated by the police in Vanuatu are that sensitive government documents have been copied and sent to the Australian government in Canberra.

Police sources told The Australian that some documents allegedly copied relate to talks between leaders of Pacific countries, including Vanuatu, to work closely with Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

Mr Jenshel, who is a former Australian Defence Force lawyer seconded to Vanuatu five years ago as part of an AusAID program, says any adverse findings against him by the Vanuatu police will be based on fabrications.