The government illegally disturbed the office of the Prime Minister of a foreign country during the negotiation of the agreement. The responsible spy who changes the reporter and his lawyer faces a secret trial. The connection was exposed between government politicians and the big oil companies that obtained financially from the agreement.
Cold war spy novel or modern scandal involving the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) or the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? Think again!
Spy on East Timor
In 2004 Australia and the new country of Timor Leste negotiate an agreement over their border in the Timor Sea. The future of rich oil and gas fields is at stake. Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) bugged Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s office to steal profits in talks. The Australian Foreign Minister at the time, Alexander Downer, apparently ordered supervision. He then took consultations with Woodside Petroleum, the company that benefited from the original agreement. There are other suggestions from conflict of interest. The agreement was finally renegotiated in 2018 after the fraud was announced.
Global Voices reports an ongoing story in 2013:
A veil of secrecy
Reporter identity, known as Witness K, has been pressed. In 2018 he and his lawyer Bernard Collaery charged with conspiracy to give a secret to Timor Leste. This requires the approval of the minister responsible for justice, Attorney General Christian Porter. They face different trials.
Witness K had pleaded guilty but stated that the only violation was to prepare a statement of arbitration trial between the government at the International Court in The Hague.
Collaery, who is a former Attorney General of the Australian Capital Territory, pleaded not guilty. Part of the Collaery trial will take place in secret after a court decision that protects sensitive or confidential information.
Many people on social media are angry at the prosecution, afraid of the direction their country is taking:
– Jenny Coles (@ meerpup11) July 11, 2020
The persecution of Bernard Collaery must be one of the most evil prosecutions (we know of) in Aust history.
A lawyer, helping the complainant go to the International Court of Justice, was secretly tried for calling morally bankrupt if not a criminal act by Aust Govts https://t.co/8gE4Dmi4cj
– Philip Thalis (@PhilipThalis) June 15, 2020
Many also question who or what is protected. Intelligence agent? The government ministers who authorized spying operations or approved the prosecution? Commercial and other oil interests that benefit from the original agreement?
Human rights campaigner Tom Clarke is a vocal advocate for Witness K and Collaery:
The Howard government spied on our Timorese neighbors in an attempt to pillage their oil & gas. Now the Morrison Government is trying to hide the truth and ‘bury the body’. That’s outrageous, morally bankrupt and must be challenged https://t.co/pxpauDh9gD
– Tom Clarke (@TomHRLC) July 23, 2020
Others believe that the real purpose behind this protracted legal process is to prevent the possibility of future reporters.
In August 2019, the Four Corners Broadcasting Program (ABC) program examined the Timor Leste scandal in East Timor Secret, Spy and Trial. It explores ‘the tension between those who say national security is paramount and those who fear the disruption of state security to the public’s right to know it’.
Stephen Charles, a former Victorian Supreme Court judge and lawyer, has represented ASIS and ASIO (foreign and domestic intelligence agencies) in previous cases. He is only one of several senior legal figures interviewed in this program who are disturbed by the direction of the trial:
This is a fundamental aspect of the rule of law that the process takes place in public. It is hard to imagine justification for this process that happened in secret.
Everyone who reads the newspaper knows that ASIS officers enter and tap into the cabinet of Timor. Everyone is aware that the result of disturbing him is that Australia has benefited greatly and is very unfair in negotiations conducted between Timor and Australia.
Prisoners in iron masks
The trend to sue reporters has been alarming. In an unprecedented case, military intelligence officers are decorated Witness JIdentity, trial, sentence and imprisonment are kept strictly confidential. He and Bernard Collaery have been given Empty Chair Human Rights Award by the civil rights organization Liberty Victoria:
The secret trial … challenges one of the fundamental foundations of our legal system: the requirements for fairness and accountability are open.
Cases … highlight the need for strong action to ensure that such trials are held in open court and must be overseen by the public.
Former military lawyer David McBride also faces a potentially secret court for blowing whistles over alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan File” revelation are behind the Federal police attack on ABC and maybe criminal charges against one of his journalists.
There are official ones investigation is being carried out by the Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force, with concern claim continues to appear like a murder of non-combatants. The slow progress of the investigation is of concern to some people on social media:
Australia and War Crimes: Mistake – the same AK-47 was planted twice in two Afghan civilians killed by Australian soldiers: For more than four years, Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force has been investigating allegations of war crimes. https://t.co/4ViqaWX6BK
– Lionel Bopage (@ Leonine111) July 17, 2020
This trial was held because Australia quickly became a security country supervisory law damaging digital rights and police raids about news organizations and journalists attacking media freedom. Journalist Paul Gregoire, writes in Big Smoke platform of opinion, argues that the decline in open justice in Australia has “a glimmer of totalitarianism”.
Reporters on ABC have brought to Twitter to add their voice:
How can Australia put forward an argument about the importance of free speech in places like China when it criminalizes journalism of public interest at home? This shameful affair. https://t.co/BVJNCxcAbk
– Linton Besser (@lb_online) July 2, 2020
In the latest development, proposed national security Constitution will allow children as young as fourteen to undergo mandatory interrogation by intelligence agents. their parents or guardians may be removed from the interview for being annoying. In addition, tracking devices can also be planted in cars or in bags without a warrant.
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