australia east timor spying

In the first week of January 2019, a private jet landed at Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. • This is an edited extract of Kim McGrath’s essay Drawing the Line from the latest Australian Foreign Affairs - Spy v Spy, published on Monday. Peter Galbraith was playing a high-stakes game. It’s a stark contrast to their treatment in Australia. “It was not what you do to a friendly state. Australia has been involved in five cases at the ICJ. It was conveniently moored opposite the waterfront white-stuccoed Palácio do Governo. Success would give it a significant share of fields worth $40bn-$50bn, helping lift the fledgling nation out of poverty. “We were no threat to national security; this was a blatant bullying tactic by the Australian government, designed to intimidate.”. Unfortunately for Collaery and Witness K, and the 7,000 staff currently working in Australia’s intelligence agencies, it also shows that opportunities for an operative to challenge a direction to perform an immoral or illegal act are limited and likely to be career-ending. He said Australia could consider adopting the US model, where intelligence and judiciary committees are regularly briefed about intelligence collection programs. It can easily become politicised, so demeaning the intelligence process and ultimately risking national security.” This is what happened in Canberra in 2004–05. Supporters of Bernard Collaery and Witness K outside the supreme court in Canberra. “There’s another aspect to this affair that most Australians haven’t appreciated – the moral injury felt by the people of Timor-Leste,” Fernandes said. “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.”. Despite UN resolutions calling on Indonesia to withdraw, Australia commenced negotiations with Indonesia in 1979 to agree on a boundary between Australia and occupied East Timor. “I can’t think of anything more crass than what has occurred,” he said. “Whatever happens from here, the courage they have displayed is already etched into Australian political history,” she says. Many questions remain about the Witness K and Collaery affair, not least about Alexander Downer, the former foreign affairs minister who went on to work for Woodside as a consultant after leaving office. and awarded 90 per cent of revenues from existing projects in that area to Timor-Leste and 10 per cent to Australia. The former Victorian premier Steve Bracks emerged into the monsoonal heat and was greeted by staff from the office of Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste’s chief maritime boundary negotiator. “And yet our plan was to deprive them of oil revenue.”. Australia refused Portugal’s requests for talks and instead negotiated a treaty with Indonesia in 1972. Relations between the governments of Australia and East Timor have been strained as a result of the dispute and hit a low point after the spying allegations emerged in 2013. From his viewpoint, they had revealed a crime. After learning about the spying, the East Timor government wanted to revoke the deal it signed with Australia. Australia's bugging of East Timor ahead of gas negotiations may be illegal under Australian law according to experts, meaning some cabinet ministers may face prosecution. By 2012 Gusmao had become aware of the bugging and initiated confidential proceedings in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, seeking to have CMATS declared void because Australia had acted in bad faith by spying during the negotiations. Collaery will fight on, facing a partially secret trial in the ACT supreme court, the court where he has spent much of his life practicing. “I remember thinking to myself that this was nothing short of cheating,” Preston says. After a border dispute and spying scandal, can Australia and Timor-Leste be ... invasion and forced integration of East Timor in 1975-76. Collaery had flown to The Hague 24 hours earlier to ready Timor-Leste’s case against Australia. It was pretty shocking.”. “The challenge was, and remains, how to ensure the general law protects all persons who might need to justifiably breach confidentiality, by enabling any person to call on and argue a public interest defence in such circumstances – such as traditionally existed under common law principles,” Prof Brown’s report found. “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. The then Timor-Leste foreign affairs minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, and his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, after signing the treaty for the Greater Sunrise gas and oil reserve. Those who blew the whistle externally experienced at least a third more repercussions than whistleblowers who stayed internal, the research found. The spy obtained permission to talk to an approved lawyer, Bernard Collaery, a barrister and one-time attorney general for the ACT. The most shocking development came midway through last year. Prosecutors have lodged separate criminal proceedings against Richard Boyle, a tax office whistleblower, and David McBride, a military lawyer who leaked documents to ABC journalists. Witness K’s home was simultaneously raided and his passport confiscated. During these negotiations, Timor-Leste dropped its spying case against Australia as an act of good-will and to further the resolution of the treaty. In September, the Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, won the federal election. In Timor-Leste, it was seen as yet another betrayal. In early 2008, Witness K approached the IGIS, Ian Carnell, alleging that a cultural change within Asis had led to his constructive dismissal. In 2013–2014, Timor-Leste ranked as Australia's 118th largest goods trading partner, with total merchandise trade valued at $24 Million Australia and Timor-Leste had been on an international cooperation in agriculture with Timor-Leste's largest agriculture export is Coffee. “This preserves executive freedom while also ensuring a check on executive overreach,” Fernandes said. The love for Collaery and Witness K runs deeper still among the Timor-Leste people, according to Prof Clinton Fernandes of the University of New South Wales, who has followed the case closely. Patrick, the crossbench senator, used parliamentary privilege earlier this year to highlight Downer and Woodside’s role in the Timor Sea negotiations. “That is not something that goes on in the United States. “It was outrageous,” Galbraith tells Guardian Australia from his home in the US. Australia secured a 50-50 split of the Greater Sunrise fields, positioned 450km north-west of Darwin and 150km south of Timor-Leste. A second raid was taking place at the home of Witness K, who was preparing to give evidence at The Hague. The listening devices would reveal Timor-Leste’s bottom line, its negotiating tactics and the competing views of cabinet members. The July 2020 cover of Australian Foreign Affairs. This amounted to Australia formally recognising Indonesia’s sovereignty in Timor, the only Western nation to do so. “They want Australia to be a good neighbour, not an eavesdropper who breaks the 10th commandment repeatedly. In 2004, when the Dili bugging occurred, the Timorese remained physically and emotionally traumatised. Those forces would wait almost a decade to exact revenge. And it was not something you do for commercial advantage.”. In the summer of 2013, young law clerk Chloe Preston was sitting alone at Collaery’s home practice in Narrabundah, Canberra. Labor has, so far, been relatively quiet on the case. Unlike Portugal, which had argued for a median-line boundary, Indonesia suggested joining the end points of the 1972 treaty, which would have put Greater Sunrise entirely in Australian waters. As Collaery told Steve Bracks in April 2020, the Timorese “knew they’d been dudded, they just didn’t know how”. Prof Clinton Fernandes says civil society groups have printed ‘solidarity with Bernard Collaery’ T-shirts and banners. East Timor had signed an oil and gas treaty with Australia but after the bugging case was publicly reported, tried to have the treaty scrapped on the grounds the bugging was illegal. They now face jail time, Last modified on Tue 13 Aug 2019 00.43 EDT. Other potential agricultural crops are vanilla, spices, candle-nut and palm oil. But for all the questions, one thing remains clear for Preston, Collaery’s former law clerk. The revised deal was far more favourable to the smaller nation, and it is now expected to reap between 70% and 80% of total revenue. That East Timor has succeeded as far as it has is remarkable, and comes thanks to the courage of the East Timorese, and enormous sympathy for East Timor and its people within the Australian community. In December, Asio and the Australian federal police executed a search warrant on Collaery’s home and chambers, issued by the then attorney general George Brandis under powers given after September 11, 2001 to combat terrorism. “With the diplomacy out of the way it’s time to bury the bodies,” Wilkie said under parliamentary privilege. SYDNEY - East Timor has accused Australia of violating its sovereignty by spying on its impoverished Asian neighbor during negotiations for an oil and gas … The pair’s actions embarrassed powerful forces within government, intelligence, and corporate Australia. It was 2004 and, in the Dili heat, the distinguished US diplomat sat opposite Australian officials, bartering over a nation’s future. Witness K lawyer Bernard Collaery to appeal against secrecy in Timor-Leste bugging trial. Preston remembers her shock at opening the door to 10 officers, including agents from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio). Australia’s intelligence services were revealed to be illegally bugging a foreign government, when the substantial benefits would flow to private corporations – all at a time when our intelligence services should have focused on terrorist threats.”. And it is arguably what drove Witness K to later raise with the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security disquiet within Asis about the operation. The revelations were … The case against Collaery and Witness K comes as Australia pursues a range of whistleblowers with vigour. Should the state use its spies against a friendly government for purely economic gain, either for the state or for private companies? Australia has been accused of “siphoning” millions of dollars a month in oil revenue that should belong to East Timor, because the government is yet to ratify last year’s maritime border treaty. The raid lasted six hours, stretching well into the afternoon. Oil and gas bubble up from a small bore hole sunk by Australians near Vikeke, Timor-Leste. The agreed boundary skirted the edges of the permits issued to Woodside and other companies – well north of the median line. “What’s worse is that what they revealed should be deeply shaming to Australia. The office of the IGIS is responsible for ensuring Australia’s intelligence agencies act “legally and with propriety, comply with ministerial guidelines and directives and respect human rights”. The raids were just the start. East Timor now wants the treaty scrapped on the grounds that the alleged spying gave Australia an unfair advantage in commercial negotiations. 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