September 18, 2018
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September 18, 2018
September 18, 2018
MP says attorney general hasn’t justified his support for action against the Timor-Leste spying whistleblower
The Labor MP Julian Hill has implicitly criticised the prosecution of the former spy Witness K and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, telling caucus colleagues the attorney general has failed to justify his decision to support the legal action.
Hill raised a number of concerns about the prosecution in the Labor caucus on Tuesday in the first major-party criticism of the controversial case, which centres around the two men blowing the whistle on Australia’s spying on Timor-Leste.
The Victorian MP asked whether the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, could provide an update on the legal proceedings, and whether the case would be tried in open court.
According to people present at Tuesday’s meeting, Hill expressed concern about the ongoing failure of the attorney general, Christian Porter, to give reasons for supporting the prosecution.
Hill said Labor had supported a tranche of national security reforms partly on the basis that the package included a safeguard that the attorney general consent to certain prosecutions, but the attorney general had then proceeded with a prosecution without providing detailed explanation.
September 12, 2018
The case of a former Australian spy and his lawyer charged with conspiring to breach intelligence laws will be held in open court, for now.
However, the spy known only as Witness K and barrister Bernard Collaery’s first appearance on the summons has been listed on Wednesday in the ACT Magistrates Court at the highly unusual time of 4.15pm.
The Canberra Times understands the government wanted to have the court closed, but court registrar Jayne Reece said at this stage the proceedings are open to the public.
Ms Reece said the matters had been listed at 4:15pm to suit the availability of Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker.
The charges against the spy and Mr Collaery come more than a decade after Witness K exposed a 2004 Australian bugging operation by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
August 28, 2018
The lawyer who helped expose an Australian spying operation on its ally Timor-Leste was given a chilling warning by the Federal Government, just months before charges were filed against him for breaches of the Intelligence Services Act.
In a legal letter obtained by the ABC, Bernard Collaery was warned that if he disclosed secret information about the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) in his book, due to be published next year, he could face “a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment”.
The letter from the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) warns he does not have approval to make “broader disclosures about ASIS staff members and ASIS activities, much less to the world at large”.
It points out Mr Collaery agreed to particular rules — including a “secrecy undertaking” — so that he could legally represent an Australian spy.
Mr Collaery and his client, the former intelligence agent known as Witness K, are due to face court next month over allegations not contained in the letter.
The pair is accused of conspiring to communicate secret information to the Government of Timor-Lestesome time between May 2008 and May 2013.
Mr Collaery is also accused of sharing information with ABC journalists about the 2004 operation which saw Australia bug Timor-Leste’s cabinet room during maritime boundary negotiations over oil and gas reserves worth an estimated $40 billion.
Those conversations allegedly occurred after the December 2013 raid on Mr Collaery’s office, where a legal brief was seized.
August 13, 2018
Former Timor-Leste president Jose Ramos-Horta has called upon the Australian government to drop the prosecution against former Australian Secret Intelligence Services (ASIS) Agent, Witness K, and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery. Ramos-Horta joins a chorus of human rights organizations and activists to condemn the case, including Human Rights Watch and the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT).
On June 2, 2018, Australian MP Andrew Wilkie used Parliamentary Privilege to reveal that the pair were being prosecuted for their involvement in revealing the Australian bugging of Timor-Leste offices during negotiations of a treaty. Wilkie’s revelation, in conjunction with recent protest, raises the question; what precedent does the prosecution establish for future whistle-blowers? Is the prosecution fair? And ultimately, how does the case characterize Australia? In considering these questions, this article will first consider the historical context of the prosecution, before considering the Ramos-Horta’s arguments against the case and its broader implications.
In 2004, ASIS planted listening devices in the cabinet office of Timor-Leste to gather information concerning negotiations of the Timor Sea Treaty which determined exclusive economic zones within the Timor Gap. This area, rich in oil and natural gas worth forty billion dollars, is highly contested. At the time, the division of territory favored Australia. According to a court summons detailed in The Guardian, Witness K ‘unlawfully communicated’ this bugging to Collaery, who in turn notified several journalists.
August 17, 2018
Rights group Amnesty International called on the Philippine government to respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly of activists, including non-nationals, days after an elderly Australian professor was expelled from the country.
Gill Boehringer, who was expelled Tuesday, was the latest foreigner ordered out of the Philippines following Australian nun Patricia Fox, who has been fighting deportation since April after earning the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The 84-year-old Australian professor and human rights advocate was blacklisted due to his reported participation in a mass demonstration in 2015. He denied the allegation.
His expulsion took place a month after three Methodist missionaries from Malawi, the United States and Zimbabwe left the country after they were ordered to leave by the Bureau of Immigration for supposedly engaging in political activities.
AI feared that the denial of entry to and expulsion of human rights activists might create a negative effect on the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly by foreigners.
“[They] may now decide to reduce their activities in the country for fear of the action the Philippine authorities might take against them,” it said.
Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/08/17/1843435/amnesty-international-urges-govt-stop-harassment-foreign-activists#M5wY7zf6O3k0pIJJ.99
August 15, 2018
An 84-year-old Australian who was barred from entering the Philippines has arrived back in Sydney after spending six days detained at Manila airport.
An Australian activist who spent six days detained at an airport in the Philippines has arrived in Sydney.
NSW professor Gill Boehringer arrived in Sydney on Wednesday morning after boarding a flight from Manila via the Chinese city of Guangzhou on Tuesday.
The elderly man was barred from entering the Philippines on August 8 after being placed on the Bureau of Immigration’s blacklist for attending a rally in the country three years ago.
Although relieved to be back in Sydney, Prof Boehringer said he won’t be let back into the Philippines.
“President (Rodrigo) Duterte is determined to keep me out,” he told AAP at the airport.
At 12.50 pm (Manila time), Prof Boehringer boarded the China Southern Airlines CZ3092 flight to Guangzhou where he will take a connecting flight to Sydney later tonight. He is expected to land at the Kingsford Smith International Airport, tomorrow, 15 August at 8.25 am. Prof Boehringer was forced to board the plane without proper medical clearance and assessed fit to travel.
Prof Boehringer is returning to Sydney by virtue of the exclusion order of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI). His name is included in the BI’s blacklist. He was kept at the NAIA 1 terminal for nearly 7 days, subjected to the most frustrating kind of ping-pong bureaucracy BI could exercise.
Prof Boehringer will be met at the airport by community and human rights activists.
He will be available for media interviews as soon as he arrives.
Contact: Peter Brock 0425363370 (Action for Peace and Development), Peter Murphy 041831201 (International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines), Lina Cabaero 0407841010 (Migrante Australia)