Tag Archives: Timor Leste

Australia/Timor Leste: Witness K trial shows authoritarianism is escalating in Australia

November 16, 2018

Bernard Collaery Witness K trial


On the machinations of the Witness K trial

John Richardson writes: If the trial judge in the Bernard Collaery/Witness K trial is persuaded to conduct proceedings in secret, which may have the effect of denying the accused a fair trial, then that judge will have imposed nothing short of an authoritarian system government on this nation and rendered the judicial system entirely redundant. Every member in every parliament throughout the country should be screaming in protest against this corrupt attack on the independence of the judiciary, the base assault on our democratic rights and freedoms and the abuse of power being perpetrated against the accused by the executive.

AR writes: What is the point in letting the accused know the evidence against them — they’d probably deny it and waste valuable court time. Just go straight to sentencing, stop mucking about.






Australia/Timor Leste: Secret Witness K brief to be debated in closed court, magistrate rules

November 9, 2018

Application for open court hearing to judge national security information in Timor-Leste spying case turned down

Bernard Collaery

The undisclosed brief of evidence against Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery is set to be the subject of a closed court hearing to judge national security information in the prosecution of the pair for disclosing the fact Australia spied on Timor-Leste.

On Friday whistleblower Witness K and Collaery suffered a setback, with the ACT magistrates court refusing their applications to have an earlier open court hearing on whether protected information in the case is likely to prejudice Australia’s national security.

Prosecutors in the case have given notice the crown’s brief of evidence is expected to disclose national security information, and as a result the court and defendants are yet to see the brief pending a decision on how to handle it.

That notice is likely to trigger the attorney general, Christian Porter, to issue a certificate of non-disclosure which leads to a closed hearing for the court to make its own judgment about whether information is likely to prejudice national security.

The chief magistrate, Lorraine Walker, told the court that laws granting a closed hearing could be “clearly potentially prejudicial to the defendants” because lawyers for the defendants “may not be entitled to be present” if they do not have a security clearance.










Australia/Timor Leste: Witness K lawyers in fight to head off closed court hearing

November 7, 2018

Lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K are being prosecuted for disclosing that Australia spied on East Timor-Leste

Bernard Collaery (pictured) and Witness K applied to the ACT magistrates court to hold a hearing ‘as soon as possible’ on national security information.

Lawyers for the whistleblower Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery have pushed the ACT magistrates court to make a ruling about national security information in a bid to head off a possible closed court hearing.

After weeks of negotiations, Witness K and Collaery failed to come to a comprehensive agreement with the commonwealth about handling of protected information in the prosecution of the pair for disclosing the fact Australia spied on Timor-Leste.

The director of public prosecutions has given notice the crown’s brief of evidence in the case is expected to disclose national security information. That notice is likely to trigger the attorney general, Christian Porter, to issue a certificate of non-disclosure for information he judges is likely to prejudice national security.

Witness K and Collaery have applied to the ACT magistrates court to hold a hearing “as soon as possible” on national security information, before Porter can issue the certificate which would trigger a closed court hearing on the issue.

On Wednesday counsel for Witness K, Haydn Carmichael, told the court if it held a hearing on national security information the attorney general “ought not feel any concern or need” to issue a non-disclosure certificate.









Australia/Timor Leste: Labor MP Julian Hill criticises Witness K prosecution

September 18, 2018

MP says attorney general hasn’t justified his support for action against the Timor-Leste spying whistleblower

Julian Hill

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.









https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/tribunal-de-camberra-inicia-julgamento-de-delator-de-escutas-em-timor-leste_n1098522 (PORTUGUES)

Australia/Timor Leste: Witness K, Bernard Collaery case to make first court appearance

September 12, 2018

Bernard Collaery addresses the media during a press conference on the East Timor spy scandal, at Parliament House in Canberra in June.

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.











Australia/Timor Leste: ‘Witness K’ lawyer Bernard Collaery got jail warning from Government over book months before being charged in Timor-Leste spy case

August 28, 2018

Bernard Collaery looks directly at the camera, with his arms crossed. He's wearing a navy blue suit and pink tie.

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.







Australia/Timor Leste: Jose Ramos-Horta Criticises Prosecution Of Witness K And Bernard Collaery

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.