A former employee of the Australian embassy in Bangkok is facing up to a decade in jail after secret spy cameras were discovered in women’s bathrooms located inside the high security government building.
The discovery, which was made late last year, raised questions and concerns about security lapses and privacy breaches in the government building. Australian media outlets reported that multiple cameras were planted facing women’s showers and toilet cubicles. A camera memory card containing images of female embassy staff was also found in a bathroom last year, according to ABC News.
“The issue of dealing with insider threats is always a challenge and always a complex issue,” Matthew Warren, director of the RMIT University Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation in Melbourne, told VICE World News. “It is easier to protect against external threats rather than protecting against the actions of trusted staff who have first hand knowledge of the security systems and features within the embassy.”
Royal Thai Police named and identified the suspect as Bank Thamsongsana, an IT worker in his thirties believed to hold dual Australian and Thai citizenship. More than 60 embassy staff, both Thais and Australians, have filed complaints against Thamsongsana and an investigation was continuing, a police officer working on the case told VICE World News. He did not address questions about how long the hidden cameras had been there for and how much footage they had captured.
A spokesperson from the embassy’s department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT) confirmed the arrest of the “former locally engaged staff member” on Jan. 6. “The welfare and privacy of all staff remains a priority for the department and we continue to provide appropriate support,” the spokesperson said, declining to comment further as it was an “ongoing legal matter”.
Australia’s embassy in Bangkok is one of its largest overseas diplomatic missions.
Warren, who is also a cyber security professor, said authorities have likely undertaken a security review and identified vulnerabilities in the embassy, although toilets and washrooms in the compound would have been considered “low risk areas.”
Thamsongsana has been released on bail and is awaiting formal charges. If convicted of sexual harrassment and public nuisance offences, he could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
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