The mother of a man who has been in custody for more than six months while accused of foreign interference insists he is not a spy as a court considers his release on bail.
Catherine Csergo said delays in certifying the charge against her 55-year-old son Alexander Csergo were “absolutely disgusting” outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Friday.
Magistrate Susan Horan is considering whether to grant Csergo bail.
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He was arrested in April and accused of reckless foreign interference, a charge prosecutors are attempting to prove for the first time.
Court documents allege Csergo engaged in covert or deceptive conduct, in collaboration with, funded, directed or on behalf of two foreigners named “Ken” and “Evelyn”.
He allegedly swapped handwritten reports for envelopes of cash with the pair, who claimed to be from a think tank.
His barrister Bernard Collaery told an April bail hearing Csergo used public documents and his own creative efforts in compiling the reports, and it was nothing close to espionage.
Alexander Csergo was arrested by Australian Federal Police in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in April. Credit: AAP
Csergo is accused of being reckless as to whether his actions would support foreign intelligence activities.
Prosecutors are yet to certify the charge against him, a process that is supposed to occur within six months.
Csergo has previously applied for bail in April and June.
The magistrate is considering a third application after being satisfied the circumstances have changed.
“There has been an exceptional delay,” Collaery told the court on Friday.
Crown prosecutor Talia Epstein said the delay was not exceptional however she did not contest the magistrate hearing the application, acknowledging Csergo had been in custody for more than six months.
Bernard Collaery, barrister for Alexander Csergo, speaks to media outside the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. Credit: Bianca De Marchi/AAP
The prosecution is awaiting the consent of the federal attorney-general’s office to proceed to charge certification, expected in late November.
Csergo says she knows her son and that he’s innocent.
“My son is not a spy, he’s a businessman,” she told reporters outside the court.
“He’s been working for all his life.
“He’s working in China for many, many years. He had a good name all over … America, everywhere he went.”
She added that Csergo came back to Australia to care for her.
“I don’t sleep, I can’t eat, I’m stressed out,” she said.
The magistrate is considering the application on Friday.
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