Times Past: May 18, 1977

The Canberra Times' front page on May 18, 1977.

The Canberra Times' front page on May 18, 1977.

Philip Agee, a former CIA agent awaiting deportation in London, named five American spies based in Canberra, leading the front page on this day in 1977.

The United States ambassador-designate, Philip Alston, called a meeting over the allegations that four of his staff in Canberra were Central Intelligence Agency agents.

Mr Alston, a friend of US president Jimmy Carter, arrived in Canberra to take up his post, but had to quickly deal with allegations of CIA activity in the capital broadcast on the ABC.

US diplomat Burton Hutchings said he was unable to confirm or deny the allegation he was a CIA agent.

"I'm not in the position to make any comment on the subject. This can only be done by the American ambassador," he said.

But prime minister Malcolm Fraser wasn't too fussed.

"People seem to have a great delight in saying, 'Oh, oh, something terrible - the Americans have done something terrible'. I have not noticed a single word in recent times about concern about what the KGB is doing," Mr Fraser said. See: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/12230694