Tag Archives: Timor Leste

Australia/Timor Leste: Witness K and the ‘outrageous’ spy scandal that failed to shame Australia

August 9, 2019

Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery helped correct what they saw as a gross injustice. They now face jail time

Peter Galbraith was playing a high-stakes game.

It was 2004 and, in the Dili heat, the distinguished US diplomat sat opposite Australian officials, bartering over a nation’s future.

Timor-Leste’s government, with Galbraith as its chief negotiator, was desperate to get a fair deal from the bountiful underwater oil and gas reserves that lay between it and Australia, a trusted ally and regional powerhouse.

Success would give it a significant share of fields worth $40bn-$50bn, helping lift the fledgling nation out of poverty. Failure would blow the tyres of an economy heavily reliant on natural resources.

The game, though, was rigged.

Unbeknownst to Galbraith, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Asis) agents had been instructed to bug key offices of the Timor-Leste government. The listening devices would reveal Timor-Leste’s bottom line, its negotiating tactics and the competing views of cabinet members.

Australia’s actions would have been buried in perpetuity, had it not been for one Asis operative, known only as Witness K. The senior intelligence officer felt deeply uncomfortable about the operation, which was mounted during a heightened regional terror threat due to the 2002 Bali bombings. He eventually approached the intelligence watchdog, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS).

The spy obtained permission to talk to an approved lawyer, Bernard Collaery, a barrister and one-time attorney general for the ACT.

Collaery helped the Timor-Leste government build a case against Australia at The Hague, alleging the bugging had rendered the treaty void.

The revelations were splashed across mainstream media, first through the Australian, then the ABC.

In Timor-Leste, the pair were seen as heroes.

“Witness K, as the secret agent became known, and Collaery, are brave Australians,” former Timor-Leste president José Ramos-Horta wrote last month while calling for the pair to be awarded his nation’s highest honour. “Individuals with a conscience and courage, representing the very best of Australians as I know them – instinctively sympathetic to the underdog, the weak and vulnerable.”









http://mietspiegelnews.com/wirtschaft/Australian-Spion-schuldig-in-Ost-Timor-nervt-Fall-h29344.html (DEUTSCH)

http://www.dailyviewsonline.com/cultura/Australiano-spia-per-dichiararsi-colpevole-in-Timor-Est-intercettazioni-caso-h18174.html (ITALIANO)

https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/mundo/ex-espiao-australiano-que-denunciou-espionagem-a-timor-leste-vai-declarar-se-culpado_n1164907 (PORTUGUES)

Australia/Timor Leste: Former ACT Attorney-General facing trial over national security charges

August 5, 2019

Former ACT Attorney-General, deputy chief minister and barrister Bernard Collaery will face the ACT courts this week, where he will be charged with conspiracy for his role in advising an Australian secret agent and for speaking to the media about the matter.

“Essentially, I will be in my own dock,” he told Region Media. 

Mr Collaery is the lawyer for Witness K, who blew the whistle in 2012 over Australian intelligence services bugging the Timor-Leste cabinet room during 2004 discussions over the Timor gas treaty. He is believed to have been part of a team of ASIS operatives who carried out the operation. In 2013, ASIO raided Witness K and Mr Collaery’s chambers, seizing the client brief.

Although nobody has seen Witness K’s statement, it’s believed to relate to the agent’s concerns that Australia acted unethically during good faith negotiations with East Timor, and his concerns over the subsequent appointment of former foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr Ashton Calvert, to roles with Woodside Petroleum, a joint venture partner in the Sunrise natural gas field development.

Former ACT Attorney-General facing trial over national security charges












Australian democracy has finally, painfully, reached its nadir

https://www.change.org/p/pm-morrison-drop-the-charges-against-bernard-collaery-and-witness-k (SIGN THE PETITION!)


Australia/Timor Leste: Timor-Leste and Australia have little to celebrate if Witness K and Bernard Collaery are not free

July 31, 2019

The trial of the former Asis spy and his lawyer undermines the already complicated relationship between two neighbours, writes Timor-Leste’s former president


As Timorese and Australians work round the clock preparing to celebrate two milestones in Timor-Leste’s recent history – the independence vote on 30 August and the arrival of peacekeeping troops on 20 September 1999, intimately connecting the two countries like an umbilical chord – two brave Australians are on trial for exposing a perfidy unworthy of a great country.

Xanana Gusmão is presiding over the organising committee of the two anniversary events. I peeked and walked in uninvited as our charismatic leader and chief negotiator gave instructions to some 100 officials involved in the festivity preparations.

Meanwhile in Australia, two men, former Asis spy Witness K and Canberra barrister Bernard Collaery are being tried … for treason? Disloyalty to country or to a government that was acting hors de loi? The two patriots were not passing on sensitive Australian security or economic secrets to Indonesia, China, North Korea or Russia.

Rather Witness K exposed the Australian government’s illegal spying operation against its ally, Timor-Leste, during bilateral negotiations. He and his lawyer, Collaery, now face jail time if convicted at trial.

The story is a simple, sad one, a story of chicanery, of innocence and trust betrayed. Sometime in 2004 as officials of our two countries were engaged in intense negotiations to resolve resource disputes in the Timor Sea, an Australian intelligence officer was ordered by his bosses in Canberra to plant listening devices in key Timor-Leste government offices to obtain sensitive information on its position and tactics.



Senate outcry after review of Home Affairs produces ‘no report’

Australia approves treaty with East Timor over gas royalties



https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Ramos-Horta (FRANCAIS)

Australia/Timor Leste: Lawyer on spy charge demands day in court

July 30, 2019

Witness K's lawyer and co-accused Bernard Collaery. Picture: Jamila Toderas

A Canberra lawyer who helped blow the whistle on Australia spying on East Timor has demanded his case be heard in the Supreme Court, which could split his case off from a former intelligence officer.
Bernard Collaery and a former spy known as Witness K are jointly accused of revealing information about Australia bugging East Timor’s cabinet rooms in 2004.
The bugging took place during negotiations over a gas and oil treaty.
In a move which could split the accused pair, Mr Collaery’s lawyer told Canberra Magistrates Court his client wanted to be indicted to the Supreme Court.
But Witness K would prefer the matter to remain with the ACT Magistrates Court, his lawyer, Robert Richter QC, told the court on Tuesday.
Charged in June 2018, the case has languished in the lower court as both defence teams wrangle with the Commonwealth over a set of orders controlling what information can be revealed during the trial.






http://mietspiegelnews.com/wirtschaft/Australien-billigt-Vertrag-mit-Ost-Timor-uber-gas-Lizenzgebuhren-h28458.html (DEUTSCH)

Australia/Timor Leste: PM leaves door open to dropping spy case

July 5, 2019

The government has been urged to drop its prosecution of Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery.

The former president of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, has urged the federal government to abandon its prosecution against a former spy known as Witness K and Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery.


“These are matters that obviously get considered within the government and with the attorney-general,” Mr Morrison told ABC radio on Friday.


“Based on that advice, we’ll continue to consider all those matters very cautiously.”


The pair are charged with exposing an Australian spying operation against East Timor.


Mr Gusmao, who is now a senior minister, has described the charges as an injustice.





ABC missing in action on Witness K and Bernard Collaery persecution





https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/portuguese/en/audiotrack/xanana-neste-momento-relacao-e-de-muito-mais-confianca-com-indonesia-do-que-com-australia (PORTUGUES)

https://setemargens.com/timor-leste-foi-traido-pela-australia-acusa-xanana/ (PORTUGUES)

http://noticias.sapo.tl/portugues/info/artigo/1532222.html (PORTUGUES)

Australia/Timor Leste: How the Witness K/Collaery case is being delayed into oblivion

March 25, 2019

This is Australian politics’ biggest scandal, and the most powerful people in the country are ensuring you know as little about it as possible.

Bernard Collaery Witness K trial

There’s been minimal coverage (outside reports in the Canberra Times) of the government’s campaign of harassment and intimidation of Witness K and Bernard Collaery this year. And that’s exactly the way the government likes it.

It appears that Attorney-General Christian Porter is doing everything possible to slow the prosecution of K and Collaery down. With a slower prosecution there’s a greater chance the media and public will lose interest, and a larger toll for Collaery too; while he’s being prosecuted in the same courts he practiced law, it’s impossible for Collaery to fully resume his career.





Australia/Timor Leste: East Timor spy scandal: Jury could hear Collaery, Witness K case

February 28, 2019

Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery.

A jury could hear the controversial prosecution of a former spy known as “Witness K” and his lawyer who are both accused of revealing information about the Australian government spying on East Timor, a court has been told.

But before the question of any committal or possible jury trial could be decided, on Thursday a preliminary hearing in the case to be heard in secret was set down for August.

Tim Begbie, for the Commonwealth, said that since the matter was last in court Attorney-General Christian Porter had issued certificates under the National Security Information Act over the brief of evidence.

He said that, in broad terms, the certificates permitted the brief of evidence to be disclosed subject to certain restricted circumstances such as where it can be viewed.

He said there was also an unclassified version of the brief.

Because the Attorney-General has issued those certificates, the matter is headed for a closed court preliminary hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court to consider how sensitive material will be dealt with.

Mr Begbie passed to the court a set of proposed orders leading up to the hearing.

The preliminary hearing was set down for August 6, 7, and 8 this year.

But also raised in the course of Thursday’s mention in the ACT Magistrates Court was the possibility of a committal to the ACT’s higher court, which both lawyers for Witness K and Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery flagged.

Mr Collaery’s barrister, Christopher Ward SC, said they were considering the question of a jury trial but were not yet in a position to decide because they had not been able to sit with their client and review the evidence.