Spies Like Us! The Noel Mudalige disappearance debacle
Posted on April 15th, 2012

Ajit Randeniya

The 1985 movie ‘Spies Like Us’ that starred Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd had an ‘interesting’ story line as far as spoof movies go. The story went like this: Pentagon Nuts determined to start a 3rd World War chose two totally incompetent applicants from a CIA recruitment program, to be parachuted in to Pakistan and eventually to be sent to Afghanistan on a purported mission to Hijack a soviet Missile launcher, launch the Soviet missile and test the new US orbital defence laser. The missile is fired and while heading for an American City, the laser system misses its target.

Little did the two bumbling fools know that they were in fact being sent as decoys to draw out the Soviet defences and two real spies had been sent in for the real ‘mission’. The Russians’ chase of the two fools provided some humorous moments.

While such ‘bungling spy’ anecdotes and other spy stories are not uncommon in the western chronicles, the recent case of the disappearance of a former Sri Lankan in Sri Lanka, one with a criminal record at that, and the events during and following  the saga provides some lighter moments that could rival those from the movie Spies Like Us.

Firstly the ‘disappeared Australian subject is someone who had a ‘colourful’ history in Sri Lanka, inclusive of several identities, had fled the country, and mysteriously obtained a new identity in Australia, ostensibly with relative ease despite all the ‘security checks’ of refugee applicants routinely conducted by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)! Then the subject reappears in Sri Lanka and a hue and cry is made that he has been the victim of a ‘white van abduction’. The unwritten, but heavily rumoured ‘by-line’ of the story is ‘the government or its ‘secret police’.

After the initial publicity of the so-called abduction case around the world, another atrocious activity of a Sri Lankan government hell-bent on violating human rights however, things started to unscramble: the subject that had ‘disappeared’ walked in to a suburban police station, as spritely as ever, and a foreign ambassador appeared to ‘support’ him with papers of his well-known fake identity!

One does not ‘even’ need a PhD in ‘spy science’ or any such other black art to be able to see that the alleged abduction has been an ‘operation’, a particularly inept one at that, planned and incompetently executed by a collective of foreign intelligence agencies, with support from the local enemy of the subject ‘abductee’, the JVP.

The operation failed in its execution due to the ‘stupidity’ of the multi-named subject walking in to a police station, removing the ‘believability factor’ from the equation which had implied right along that the government was behind it. Secondly, the fine lady producing his fake identity based travel papers was directly from Spies Like Us!

As a result of this bungle, and the Sri Lankan government’s clever ploy of simply deporting him on visa offences now puts the onus on the Australian government to prosecute the sneaky ‘subject’ for the sins he committed (or agreed to commit!). The Australian legal system is currently fully equipped to do that under the hastily passed ‘Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011’ dubbed “the WikiLeaks amendment” that considerably broadened the legal powers available to ASIO to investigate activities the members of civil society are engaged in.

The Wikileaks amendment was preceded by the ‘Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act’ passed in March 2011 that expanded ASIO’s ability to share with other agencies information obtained from wiretaps and computer access.

Bernard Keane in the independent online news source ‘Crikey’ who had been closely examining the “WikiLeaks amendment” noted that the current definition of a “foreign organisation”:…allows ASIO to apply to the attorney-general to spy on foreign governments or foreign political organisations, but would be dramatically widened under the amendment to allow spying in relation to anything to do with “the interests of Australia’s national security, Australia’s foreign relations or Australia’s national economic well-being.”

The Greens political party, some journalists, the Law Council of Australia, the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic), and the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law raised objections to the amendment. The Government seemed unable to explain the rationale behind the amendment at the Senate inquiry, prompting an extraordinary third submission in which it claimed that the amendment would provide “authorities with a better understanding of illegal fishing operations, and enable the relevant Australian authorities to take appropriate action internationally. Keane wryly commented, “So there you have it—the one clear example of why the government wants a significant expansion in ASIO’s foreign intelligence remit is to provide it with “a better understanding of illegal fishing operations”. It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks, but is all about the fish.”

There is indeed something very fishy about the “WikiLeaks amendment”, from its timing (and speedy passage through) the Parliament, the absence of any clear rationale for its introduction, and its exceedingly wide potential application.

The Castan Centre’s comments on the amendment and its potential impact upon WikiLeaks operations are worth quoting at length:…amendments would permit ASIO a much wider scope to investigate the activities of Australians who are overseas, and whose activities do not pose any threat to Australia’s security, but perhaps do have implications for Australia’s foreign relations or economic interests. This could include Australians involved in non-violent political activities abroad, which while posing no threat to Australia’s security, and not involving any foreign political organisations, might nevertheless be seen as having implications for Australia’s foreign relations (for example, because they would be perceived adversely by the government of the country in which such activities were taking place).

The multi-identitied Noel Mudalige has clearly breached the new laws by engaging in activities, and even implicating Australia in such activities that are likely to have implications for Australia’s relations with Sri Lanka. Prompt prosecution of Mudalige would go some way to repair such damage.

Don’t hold your breath!

5 Responses to “Spies Like Us! The Noel Mudalige disappearance debacle”

  1. Dham Says:

    I don’t believe Australian authorities will ever investigate this. This will be swept under the carpet until next liberal gov arrives.

  2. gamunu6 Says:

    Thank you Ajith Randenya!
    It is inconceivable, to a country like Australia, to withold infromation about Noel Mudalige or other Tamil name he goes by. When the Minister of Defence asked for particulars of the Austratlian Citizen, they Australia FAILED to comply. If Australia is such a straight forward country, why hide his indentity.

    Later we came to know that this person had so many aliases & at one time killed IPKP members back in 1987 when they were here to arm twist Sri lanka. Anyone who supported getting rid of IPKF is welcomed news for lankans as JRJ our President at that time, was surprised when US declined to get involved.

    Australia now wants to toe the line with USA as its concern with Chinese influence in the region. US is a willing participant. These countries always have some hidden agenda in anything they do. It is upto Sri lanka, to pick & chose friends & foes alike.
    There should be some protest to Australia who is trumpeting Human Rights & prrotection of minorities, when they have constantly interefered & also want help in stopping Tamil migration to Australia. Thst is only when they want Sri lanka to help them.

    Under those circumstances why should we stop Tamils leaving Sri lanka to anywhere in the world, less head ache for us. let them go, but make sure our citizens are protected at all times, irrespective of visitors coming to start new political parties when lanka is already polluted with all sorts of political parties.

    Thank you for bringing up this issue which everyone wants to sweep under the carpet. Feel that proper investigation about the whole incident should be conducted for the good of the country & to make sure this type of incidents never happen again.

    ~ Gamunu, expressing my views as an expat from Canada,

  3. aravinda Says:

    We laugh because the actors were exposed. These are vicious animals who are ready to sell ones Motherland for few thousand dollars. Luckily this turn out to be a comedy.

    Lets make film about this. Unfortunately Sargent Nallathumbi is dead. He is a perfect fit for the main role.

  4. Voice123 Says:

    @gamunu6
    “Under those circumstances why should we stop Tamils leaving Sri lanka to anywhere in the world, less head ache for us. ”

    – I disagree. Sri Lanka benefits from non-racist, integrated Tamils living in Sri Lanka as they contribute to the country and add diversity and are good diplomats for the country eg. no patriotic Sri Lankan would want to expel Tamils of the calibre of the late Lakshman Kadirgamar or sportspeople like Murali. However the problem is when RACIST Tamils leave Sri Lanka, the moment they leave due to GDP and economic disparities between Sri Lanka and the western countries they migrate to, the racist Tamil’s power over us is multiplied manifold as is their power to harm us from a distance. This is something the LTTE understands very well but most Sinhalese, for some strange reason cannot grasp! Most people would agree, in this age that we live roughly speaking, money = power; > money = > power. GDP per capita of Sri Lanka is around $2,500; GDP per capita of Australia is around $40,000 per capita, for illustration the per capital GDP of Malaysia is around $10,000 that is on an average basis, the average Malaysian is around 4 times as powerful as the average Sri Lankan, the average Australian is at least 16 times as powerful as the average Sri Lankan living in Sri Lanka, the moment you take a racist Tamil out of Sri Lanka they get at least 20 times more dangerous and the more fanatical hatred they have towards us, the more dangerous they are especially if they are articulate in English and good mixers. If they connect with western powerbrokers, NGOs and politicians, their threat to us increases even more.

    – UNTIL SRI LANKA’S PER CAPITA GDP AND ECONOMY IS ON PAR with countries such as Australia and Canada, we should be restricting the movement of any potential Sri Lankan traitor or troublemakers (Tamils or Sinhala traitors) with the power to harm us from afar.

  5. jayt Says:

    This notice is for Sinhalese in all western countries. There is a group operating against Sinhalese to discredit Sinhalese in global level. It is not just happening in Sri lanka. Sri lanka monks and general Sinhalese in Europe, North America. Australia as well as Sri lanka have to watch out.
    Sinhalese do know very little about spies and they are not aware of how series it is. Spies set up things against Sinhalese and Sinhalese get caught in them. For example, there were two Sinhalese doctors in the west were charged for sexual abuse and more lately a monk in London. All these are part of global
    operation and never will go away until Sinhalese in the west lay charges against them by telling the world who they are.

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