Former Liberal candidate will contest foreign interference charges

The first person to be prosecuted in Australia under the country’s foreign interference laws has signalled he will be contesting the charges.

Di Sanh Duong, a former Liberal Party candidate, was charged last November with preparing an act of foreign interference after an investigation by the country’s spy agency ASIO and federal police.

Di Sanh Duong has been on bail after he was charged with preparing an act of foreign interference.

Mr Duong, 65, appeared before an online Melbourne Magistrates Court hearing on Tuesday morning where his barrister, Charles Morgan, said multiple facts were in issue in the “novel offence”.

“It’s not been litigated yet in Australia, is that what you’re saying?” Magistrate Susan Wakeling asked.

“That’s right,” Mr Morgan confirmed.

The foreign interference offence, which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years, was introduced in 2018.

Magistrate Wakeling extended Mr Duong’s bail ahead of a three-day committal hearing, that will test the strength of the evidence against him, from March 15.

The court heard the police investigator will be the main witness to be cross-examined.

The Age previously revealed Mr Duong, 65, ran for the Liberal Party in the state seat of Richmond in 1996.

He has also previously been named as on the board of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification.

Mr Duong, who also uses the name Sunny Duong, is also the president of Oceania Federation of Chinese Associations, a global group for people of Chinese descent who come from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

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