Tag Archives: Timor Leste

Australia/Timor Leste: Government successfully blocks Bernard Collaery from obtaining documents on legality of spy mission


The federal government has successfully blocked Bernard Collaery from obtaining key documents about the lawfulness of the notorious spy operation against Timor-Leste, arguing that questions about its legality are irrelevant.

Collaery, a lawyer and one-time attorney general of the Australian Capital Territory, is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to reveal classified information while working with his client, the former spy Witness K, in relation to a 2004 operation to bug the offices of Timor-Leste’s government during oil and gas negotiations.

To aid his defence, Collaery attempted to subpoena documents from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Office of National Intelligence, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which he hoped would show whether the mission was conducted unlawfully and outside of the proper functions of Asis.

He argued he would be entitled to be acquitted if a jury had any reasonable doubt about the lawfulness of Asis’s activities, making the documents relevant to his case.

But the commonwealth resisted the subpoenas, saying the material and questions about the legality of Asis’s mission – the existence of which it has steadfastly refused to confirm or deny – were irrelevant to the case.

On Monday, Justice David Mossop agreed with the federal government and set aside Collaery’s subpoenas.

He said the burden on the prosecution was only to prove that an offence had been committed by Collaery’s alleged disclosure of protected Asis information. That “does not extend to a requirement to prove compliance with every provision of the [Intelligence Services] Act relevant to the activity of Asis which gives rise to the information or matter disclosed”, Mossop said.








Australia: Bernard Collaery’s trial needs to remain open


THE LATEST DISPORT by the Federal Government to further erode the rule of law was confirmed in court this week, with the actions of lawyers representing Attorney-General Michaelia Cash causing Justice David Mossop to describe the continued obfuscation as a “perpetual vortex”.

I have written several times on the trial of former A.C.T. Attorney-General Bernard Collaery, who has been charged over his alleged role in exposing the bugging of Timor-Lester and the current Government’s willingness to go to extraordinary lengths in order to prosecute him.

The latest in this Machiavellian piece of governance was performed on the floor of the A.C.T. Supreme Court on Wednesday when lawyers for the Attorney-General told the court they wanted to introduce updated evidence that would show there would be severe national security issues posed if the trial went ahead in the public sphere.

Despite the appeals court last month finding that there was minimal risk posed to national security in their decision to allow much of the Collaery trial to be adjudicated in the open, lawyers argued that the situation has altered dramatically in the proceeding 20 months that it has taken for Collaery’s appeal to be heard and resolved. The fact this length of time has been entirely the Government’s own doing was unsurprisingly left off the remit.

It wants to produce new evidence that only the court, not Collaery, can see. This will entail the security risks that they believe to be prevalent if the trial is to remain in the open. It also, in one of the more sinister moves, wants to appoint a special counsel – paid for by the taxpayer – to view these documents on Collaery’s behalf.

This Kafkaesque move shows a shocking lack of judgement from a government that is mired in issues of transparency and secrecy.







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Australia: ‘Win for transparency’: ACT court rules in favour of Bernard Collaery’s challenge to secrecy order


Lawyer Bernard Collaery is being prosecuted for allegedly helping his then client, Witness K, reveal aspects of an alleged secret bugging operation against East Timor.

Sensitive details surrounding Australia’s alleged bugging operation of East Timor will be heard in public after the ACT Court of Appeal ruled that requiring large parts of the case against Bernard Collaery to be heard behind closed doors created a real risk of damaging public confidence in the legal system.

The unanimous judgment has been hailed as a “win for transparency” because it overturns a previous ruling made under national security laws which would have required large parts of the hearings into his alleged efforts to expose a secret Australian operation to bug East Timor’s government to be held behind closed doors.

Mr Collaery has always accepted that some sensitive information should not be publicly disclosed but wanted the disclosure of six specific matters during the trial.

The former lawyer for an ex-spy known as Witness K challenged an order made by the ACT Supreme Court last year to accept former attorney-general Christian Porter’s application to invoke the National Security Information Act, which governs how courts should handle sensitive information. The act requires the court to give “greatest weight” to the Attorney-General’s views about the national security implications of a case, which has resulted in large portions of the hearings being held in secret.

The ACT Supreme Court had ruled the public disclosure of certain information would have posed a real risk of undermining national security.

In their judgment handed down on Wednesday, the three judges of the ACT Court of Appeal accepted that the disclosure would involve a “risk” to national security but said they doubted it would be a “significant risk”.

“On the other hand, there was a very real risk of damage to public confidence in the administration of justice if the evidence could not be publicly disclosed,” the judgment summary said.

“The Court emphasises that the open hearing of criminal trials was important because it deterred political prosecutions, allowed the public to scrutinise the actions of prosecutors, and permitted the public to properly assess the conduct of the accused person.”







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Timor Leste/USA: ‘You know we are going to kill you’: Ex-priest’s chilling threat to lawyer


Richard Daschbach has support in high places in East Timor.

A defrocked Catholic priest accused of systematic child abuse in East Timor has been reported to police for allegedly threatening to kill the human rights lawyer representing the victims.

The claim against American-born Richard Daschbach was made in a statement released on Tuesday night by law firm JUS Juridico Social Consultoria.

“At around 11.15am [on Tuesday] inside the Oecusse District Court, the accused of the case of 14 counts of sexual abuse against children, one count of child pornography and domestic violence, ex-priest Mr Richard Daschbach threatened to kill Ms Barbara Oliveira, partner of JU,S Juridico Social,” the firm said in the statement.

“This threat was made inside the court building, directly witnessed by one member of the national police. While Ms Oliveira was sitting and working in the waiting area of the court waiting for the conclusion of the hearing, Mr Daschbach left the defendant waiting room to go to the toilet.

“Upon his return, Mr Daschbach walked across the open area and stood right in front of her while she remained sitting, at a distance of approximately 1.5m to 2m, and clearly uttered in English, ‘Barbara, you know we are going to kill you’. After that, he went back to the defendant room.”

The incident was reported to police and because Oliveira is a Brazilian and Portuguese national, their embassies in Dili have also been informed about the alleged death threat, the statement said.

Miguel Faria, one of the lawyers defending the sacked priest, told Portuguese news agency Lusa his team “were not aware of the situation”.

Daschbach, 84, is facing charges of child pornography, domestic violence and 14 counts of alleged abuse of girls under 14 at a shelter he operated in the country between 1991 and 2018.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last month revealed a letter sent in 2018 by Daschbach to the Rome headquarters of the Society of the Divine Word, the church’s largest missionary order, in which he agreed to comply with any measures it imposed, saying “the victims could be anyone from about 2012 back to 1991”. The church expelled him soon afterwards.

His high-profile criminal trial in mostly Catholic East Timor has been held before three judges in the remote territory of Oecusse.




https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/organizacao-que-defende-vitimas-de-abuso-diz-ter-sido-alvo-de-ameacas-em-timor-leste_n1335072 (PORTUGUES)

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/06/10/un-ex-pretre-americain-en-proces-au-timor-pour-abus-sexuels-sur-des-enfants (FRANCAIS)

Australia/Timor Leste: Bernard Collaery’s appeal hearing to challenge secret trial closed to the public


Bernard Collaery is being prosecuted for allegedly helping his client reveal aspects of the secret bugging operation against East Timor.

A two-day court hearing into an appeal brought by Witness K’s former lawyer Bernard Collaery challenging a secrecy order is being held behind closed doors after his lawyer didn’t challenge holding the appeal in secret.

The barrister and former ACT attorney-general is facing the prospect of jail for allegedly helping his client, the ex-spy known as Witness K, reveal information about Australia’s bugging operation of East Timor’s government during commercial negotiations to carve up the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.

Mr Collaery is challenging a ruling to hold his trial largely in secret under national security laws.

The hearing in the ACT Court of Appeal was open to the public for about three minutes on Monday morning. ACT Chief Justice Helen Murrell noted there was an application by Mr Collaery’s legal team to lead further evidence and then asked if there was any challenge to the hearing being held in secret.

Barrister Bret Walker, acting for Mr Collaery, conceded it was regrettable the court had to be closed but he was not challenging it, as it was required by the National Security Information Act.

“We do regret the appearance of that, but we can’t see any other way around it,” Mr Walker said.

The decision means most or all of the two-day hearing will be held in secret. A ruling on Mr Collaery’s challenge likely won’t be handed down for months. If it doesn’t go his way, Mr Collaery could then appeal to the High Court, which would further delay his trial.

Mr Collaery is challenging an order made by the ACT Supreme Court last year to accept former attorney-general Christian Porter’s application to invoke the NSI Act, which governs how courts should handle sensitive information. The NSI Act requires the court to give “greatest weight” to the Attorney-General’s views about the national security implications of a case, which has resulted in large portions of the hearings being held in secret.

Human Rights Law Centre senior lawyer Kieran Pender said the secrecy surrounding the prosecution of Mr Collaery was “wrong and undemocratic”.

“We should be protecting whistleblowers, not punishing them. Shrouding this case in secrecy only exacerbates the injustice being done,” he said.









https://intisari.grid.id/read/032698538/seret-nama-mantan-jaksa-agung-kasus-penyadapan-pemerintah-timor-leste-oleh-australia-demi-keruk-tambang-minyak-disebut-mengejek-keadilan-ternyata-ini-pemicunya (INDONESIAN)


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Some of the terrific supporters of justice for Bernard Collaery and Witness K at today’s rally outside the ACT Supreme Court. Telling the truth and exposing government wrongdoing should not be a crime!

Drop the Whistleblower Prosecutions Facebook 17/05/21

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Australia/Timor Leste: ‘Entirely undemocratic’: Lawyer Bernard Collaery to challenge secrecy orders


Lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K allegedly revealed Australia bugged East Timor’s cabinet during tense oil and gas negotiations.

Lawyers acting for Bernard Collaery will next week challenge a court order requiring large parts of his trial to be held in secret as the long-running case continues into his alleged efforts to expose a secret Australian operation to bug East Timor’s government.

The ACT Court of Appeal will hold a two-day hearing on Monday and Tuesday into an order made under national security laws to hold the trial largely behind closed doors.

Mr Collaery, the former lawyer for an ex-spy known as Witness K, is challenging an order made by the ACT Supreme Court last year to accept former attorney-general Christian Porter’s application to invoke the National Security Information Act, which governs how courts should handle sensitive information. The NSI Act requires the court to give “greatest weight” to the Attorney-General’s views about the national security implications of a case, which has resulted in large portions of the hearings being held in secret.

Mr Collaery, a barrister and former ACT attorney-general, is facing the prospect of jail for allegedly helping his client reveal information about Australia’s bugging operation of East Timor’s government during commercial negotiations to carve up the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.

Witness K, a former intelligence officer for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, has indicated he will plead guilty to breaching secrecy laws by revealing Australia’s spying on East Timor, but Mr Collaery is continuing to fight the charges against him. The Witness K case is being held up by disagreements over whether he can access his affidavit that was used by East Timor in international proceedings in the Hague, which his lawyers argue need to be before the court for his sentencing.

Mr Collaery is charged with offences relating to the alleged disclosure of information to both the East Timor government and the Australian media.

After East Timor commenced legal proceedings in the International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbitration, the two nations signed a revised energy treaty in 2018 dividing the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields.

Human Rights Law Centre senior lawyer Kieran Pender said there was no public interest in prosecuting Mr Collaery and Witness K.












Australia/Timor Leste: Witness K lawyer Bernard Collaery wins international free speech prize


Lawyer Bernard Collaery addresses the media outside the supreme court in Canberra, 6 August 2019

The Australian lawyer Bernard Collaery has won a prestigious British free speech prize for his efforts exposing a secret Australian operation to bug Timor-Leste’s fledgling government during sensitive oil and gas negotiations.

Collaery is still being pursued by the Australian government through the criminal courts and, if convicted, the barrister and former ACT attorney general faces jail for allegedly sharing protected intelligence information.

The charge stems from an episode during which Collaery, who frequently acted for intelligence officers, represented an Australian spy known as Witness K, who had grown increasingly concerned about a 2004 mission to bug the government offices of Timor-Leste during commercial negotiations with Australia, an ally, to carve up the resource-rich Timor Sea.

The actions of Witness K and Collaery helped Timor-Leste, one of the world’s poorest nations, take a case to the international courts and, eventually, renegotiate a fairer deal.

Now, Collaery has been recognised with the International Blueprint for Free Speech Whistleblowing prize, which recognises the bravery and integrity of whistleblowers who have made a positive impact in the public interest. Previous winners of Blueprint for Free Speech awards include Chelsea Manning, who won while behind bars in 2016 at a maximum security prison in Kansas, and Nick Martin, the doctor who blew the whistle on Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru.






Image may contain: 2 people, text that says "The AOFES END #BREAKING Bernard Collaery has won the UK's Blueprint for Free Speech whistleblowing prize for his efforts exposing Australia's S spy operation in Timor-Leste"

Australia/Timor Leste: Australia urged to return $5bn to Timor-Leste and launch royal commission

October 18, 2019

Senate inquiry told Australia should also drop prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery

Australia’s negotiations with Timor-Leste should be the subject of a royal commission, and the government should return $5bn unfairly taken from the impoverished nation, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.

It should also drop the prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery, who revealed the now infamous bugging of Timorese delegates during negotiations on what became the CMATS treaty.

A Senate standing committee is examining decisions made by Australia in 2002, amid fractious maritime border negotiations with Timor-Leste, to withdraw from the jurisdictions of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Among the seven published submissions – none of which come from the Australian government – high profile Timorese organisations, allies and academics, supported the return, and called on Australia to be held accountable for its conduct.

Submissions also called for the government to drop the prosecutions of Witness K and Bernard Collaery.

Bracks and academic Clinton Fernandes noted it occurred around the time that Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists bombed Australia’s embassy in Jakarta.

“Surely our Asis resources should have been targeting the ‘war on terror’, and not facilitating Australia’s economic exploitation of a friendly, desperately poor and recently traumatised neighbour?” Bracks said.

Timor-Leste later sought to have the CMATS treaty terminated by the Hague after the bugging operation was revealed in 2013, but Witness K was prevented by Australia from attending the hearing to give evidence, and both he and Collaery have faced charges in extraordinarily controversial circumstances.

Bracks said he had “no doubt” that Xanana Gusmao would not have signed the treaty had he known Witness K and Collaery would be charged soon after.

Submissions to the inquiry have closed, although requests for an extension can be made. A report is expected on 28 November.














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Indonesia/Australia: One of Indonesia’s most wanted people says she won’t be silenced, despite daily death threats

October 4, 2019

Veronica Koman in Sydney.

EXCLUSIVE: As violence in the Papuan provinces of Indonesia reaches its “darkest” point in 20 years, Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman says she will continue to speak out despite daily death threats.

A pro-Papuan lawyer who has been threatened with an Interpol Red Notice says she receives daily rape and death threats as the uprising in the Indonesian provinces ramp up.

Veronica Koman, a respected Indonesian human rights lawyer, now lives in Australia but continues to be pursued by the Indonesian government for allegedly disseminating evidence of security forces carrying out violence in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.

“I started to receive death threats two years ago and it’s almost like a daily experience now to receive death and rape threats online,” the 31-year-old told SBS News in an exclusive interview.

“They’re trying to kill the messenger. They cannot refute my data, all the footage they cannot refute that so they’re trying to destroy my credibility.”


Ms Koman became involved in the West Papuan struggle for independence in 2014 after five protesters were allegedly killed and another 17 injured by the Indonesian military in an event known as the Paniai killings.

“I thought at the time … ‘wow, why is there no outrage? School children are killed by security forces,'” she said.

“It has become my personal mission to expose what’s happening in West Papua.”

Last week, the provinces – which share a border with Papua New Guinea – suffered one of their bloodiest days in 20 years, with at least 33 people killed in the central town of Wamena.





https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4733800/veronica-koman-buka-suara-di-media-australia-kemlu-anggap-tak-pantas (INDONESIAN)

https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4734501/tampil-di-media-veronica-koman-diingatkan-soal-beasiswa (INDONESIAN)

https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20191004085943-20-436653/buka-suara-veronica-koman-sebut-terima-ancaman-pembunuhan (INDONESIAN)

https://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veronica_Koman (INDONESIAN)

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/profile/veronica-koman (FRANCAIS)

Australia/Timor Leste: Australia’s quest for national security is undermining the courts and could lead to secretive trials

October 2, 2019

Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery. Picture: Jamila Toderas

This is part of a new series looking at the national security challenges facing Australia, how our leaders are responding to them through legislation and how these measures are impacting society. Read other stories in the series here.

In August, the intelligence officer known as Witness K indicated he would plead guilty to a conspiracy charge under section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act. That section prohibits the disclosure of information acquired or prepared by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

His lawyer, Bernard Collaery, will contest the same charge in the ACT Supreme Court.

Concerns have been raised about the use of the National Security Information Act (NSIA) in the Collaery trial. Anthony Whealy, a former judge who presided over several of Australia’s recent terrorism trials, said

This could be one of the most secretive trials in Australian history.

Both cases will be back in court this month. A hearing is also scheduled to consider how national security information will be dealt with in the Collaery trial.

There has been significant media discussion around the ASIS bugging that Witness K and Bernard Collaery exposed, but less about the NSIA.

So what is the National Security Information Act? Why was it introduced and how could it lead to secretive trials?