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Memento : Issue 27
Those wanting to know how to research ASIO records in our collection were offered inside advice by our reference staff. In her talk on 'Moneypenny's Hot Tips for ASIO Files', Merilyn Minell explained how to gain access to ASIO files, and why some material within them is exempt from public access. Screening all day was the The Mysterious Miss X documentary, containing footage from our collection on 'Sylvia' (Kay), a double agent who worked on an ASIO case involving the espionage activities of Soviet First Secretary Ivan Skripov. For those who missed the excitement of the day, the transcript of David McKnight's talk can be viewed on our website at www.naa.gov.au/exhibitions/ events/speakers.html. On the 50th anniversary of the Petrov affair, we held a special day to highlight the shadowy world of spies, spooks and secret files. In May this year, over 500 visitors were lured to our Canberra building, where the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) once lived, to look into our files and listen to talks on espionage and intelligence. Younger visitors played spy for a day -- dusting for fingerprints, writing secret messages using invisible ink, and sending coded emails to their friends. The head of ASIO, Dennis Richardson, was on hand to officially launch the day. His opening remarks highlighted the important relationship between the Archives and ASIO, which ensures that ASIO records are archived and made available to the public after 30 years, allowing Australians to review past events and decisions. Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Technology in Sydney, David Those spies who loved us ... McKnight spoke about how he used our records to research his book Australia's Spies and Their Secrets, and provided a historical perspective to Australia's intelligence organisations today. Michael Thwaites, former head of ASIO's counter-espionage branch, recounted his role in the defection of Vladimir Petrov, the Head of Soviet Intelligence in Australia in the early 1950s. The story is also told in his 1980 book, Truth Will Out -- ASIO and the Petrovs. Dressed in trench coats and hats, 'undercover spies' roved the building, lurked in corridors and handed out programs to visitors. Behind the scenes, visitors looked at copies of ASIO and other espionage-related files, surveillance photographs and videos from our collection. (left) Michael Thwaites, former head of ASIO's counter-espionage branch, talks to a rapt audience about his role in the Petrov defection 50 years ago. (right) Spies for a day, Sam and David Barton dusting for fingerprints. Spring--Summer 2004 MEMENTO 9