As a former US ambassador to Croatia, Galbraith had frequent access to US intelligence. Overview of the case On 17 December 2013 Timor-Leste instituted proceedings against Australia with regard to the seizure and subsequent detention “by Agents of Australia of documents, data and other property which belongs to Timor‑Leste and/or which Timor‑Leste has the right to protect under international law”. 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. Supporters of Bernard Collaery and Witness K outside the supreme court in Canberra. She is a researcher and author of Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea. They now face jail time, Last modified on Tue 13 Aug 2019 00.43 EDT. Collaery is restricted by national security legislation from talking about the operation. ... As Australia and Timor-Leste prepare to … Australia is accused of spying on East Timor leaders in 2004 when the two countries were negotiating a gas treaty. Australia defends a raid on the offices of a lawyer representing East Timor in a spying row case against Australia at The Hague. In early 2008, Witness K approached the IGIS, Ian Carnell, alleging that a cultural change within Asis had led to his constructive dismissal. In September, the Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, won the federal election. 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. “That was what was really important to them. According to a statement Collaery made to federal parliament, part of the complaint involved an operation Witness K “had been ordered to execute in Dili, Timor-Leste”. The July 2020 cover of Australian Foreign Affairs. Witness K was to be Timor-Leste’s lead witness. “The whole experience of the negotiation from 2000 on and through this whole episode was to see a country that – yes, in many ways focuses on the public good – but where corporate greed was a big part of it, because the Howard and Downer government, they were shills for the corporations,” Galbraith said. In 2002, he became Timor-Leste’s first president, and later served as its prime minister. A second raid was taking place at the home of Witness K, who was preparing to give evidence at The Hague. 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. This was a damning indictment of Australia’s negotiators, some of the best and brightest lawyers in government, backed by the resources of multiple departments. “It was not what you do to a friendly state. Support Global Voices. Gusmão led the Timorese resistance against the Indonesian occupation in the mountains of East Timor and, after his capture in 1992, from his jail cell in Jakarta. Timor-Leste had by then dropped its case against Australia, paving the way for the signing of a new treaty on the Timor Sea maritime boundary in March 2018. They did this in the Nuclear Test case (Sir Ninian Stephen) and also in the East Timor Case (Sir Garfield Barwick). Witness K’s passport was seized, preventing him from flying to The Hague. The Dili spying operation shamed Australia to the negotiating table. “With the diplomacy out of the way it’s time to bury the bodies,” Wilkie said under parliamentary privilege. “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 and Collaery now face jail time for helping correct what they saw as a gross injustice. 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. But instead of moving to cement this new beginning, in June 2018, four months after the treaty signing, five years after the Dili bugging operation became public and 14 years after it occurred, the attorney general, Christian Porter, in what was now the Morrison-led Coalition government, consented to charges being laid against Collaery and Witness K. This sent a chilling message. The following year, with Australia’s covert support, Indonesia invaded Portuguese Timor. ABC Radio Darwin reported on the statement, but the dispute was ignored by the national media until Leo Shanahan published a story in the Australian on 29 May 2013. 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 yet our plan was to deprive them of oil revenue.”. His efforts to get it back stretched across six years of secret hearings in the administrative appeals tribunal. Patrick, the crossbench senator, used parliamentary privilege earlier this year to highlight Downer and Woodside’s role in the Timor Sea negotiations. Australians accept the need for extreme secrecy around spying operations aimed at combating terrorism and other security threats. “This prosecution seems designed to punish whistleblowers,” Lynch tells Guardian Australia. • 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. It was a good deal for the Australian government, and a boon for the joint venture of multinationals, led by Woodside, seeking to exploit the Timor Sea. The raids were just the start. Woodside discovered the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields in 1974. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP, Witness K and the 'outrageous' spy scandal that failed to shame Australia. The 2005 Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor estimated that more than 150,000 people, a quarter of the population, were murdered or deliberately starved to death between 1974 and 1999, when the territory was under Indonesian rule – a brutal occupation aided and abetted by Australia. John Howard meets Australian troops leading the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste on 1 September 1999. It has fallen on individuals such as former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and NSW shadow attorney general Paul Lynch to take up the cause. Collaery helped the Timor-Leste government build a case against Australia at The Hague, alleging the bugging had rendered the treaty void. “Such a reform would parallel improvements to whistleblower laws, rather than seeking to convert whistleblower protection laws into more general laws aimed at public disclosure of information.”. “I remember thinking to myself that this was nothing short of cheating,” Preston says. “A party to a legal case, had just waltzed into their opponent’s chambers, and seized their legal briefs. The revelations were splashed across mainstream media, first through the Australian, then the ABC. But for all the questions, one thing remains clear for Preston, Collaery’s former law clerk. Bernard Collaery says the head of ASIS ordered a team into East Timor to conduct work which was well outside the proper functions of ASIS. Failure would blow the tyres of an economy heavily reliant on natural resources. As Timor-Leste’s minister of state, Ágio Pereira, told a reception after the signing ceremony, the treaty marked a “new chapter in the bilateral relationship”. The 127-room Central Maritime Hotel was a converted Russian hospital ship that was rebuilt in Finland, used as a hotel in Myanmar and then towed to Dili because there were no hotels or restaurants of suitable standard for international visitors. Unbeknownst to Galbraith, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (Asis) agents had been instructed to bug key offices of the Timor-Leste government. Peter Galbraith was playing a high-stakes game. This week, Griffith University integrity expert Prof AJ Brown and his team published a major study examining the experiences of whistleblowers. He eventually approached the intelligence watchdog, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS). Civil society groups have printed “solidarity with Bernard Collaery” T-shirts and banners, which Fernandes says will soon be a visible presence across Dili. Oddly, it was the Gillard government that made the spying allegations public. Tensions rose last week when the Australia Security Intelligence Office raided the Canberra office of the lawyer who is representing East Timor in the spying … East Timor will abandon the multi-billion dollar oil and gas treaty at the centre of sensational spying claims by Australia. Australia secured a 50-50 split of the Greater Sunrise fields, positioned 450km north-west of Darwin and 150km south of Timor-Leste. When the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste came into existence on 20 May 2002, the Howard government considered the possibility of Timor-Leste gaining sovereignty to the median line in the Timor Sea such a threat “to Australia’s national security, foreign relations or economic well-being” that it was apparently necessary to direct Asis (and possibly other intelligence agencies) to support Australia’s negotiating team on the maritime boundary. The case drew immediate condemnation from lawyers, former judges, academics, and civil society groups. A provisional agreement, the Timor Sea Treaty, signed when East Timor became independent on 20 May 2002 defined a Joint Petroleum Development Area – J.P.D.A. Lawyer Bernard Collaery arrives at the ACT law courts in in August 2019. n the first week of January 2019, a private jet landed at Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili, the capital of. East Timor is battling Australia in The Hague over Australia's alleged spying and violation of East Timor's sovereignty in a dispute over an oil and gas treaty between the two. In 2013, the Australian government revealed the allegations of spying. “That is not something that goes on in the United States. “For years to come, Australians, young and old, will learn of the two heroes who revealed the farce of politics in this country.”, Witness K to plead guilty in Timor-Leste spying case but lawyer to fight charges, Bernard Collaery helped the Timor-Leste government build a case against Australia at The Hague, alleging the bugging had rendered the treaty void. East Timor now wants the treaty scrapped on the grounds that the alleged spying gave Australia an unfair advantage in commercial negotiations. “As a law clerk, a week out from being admitted as a solicitor, and as an Australian citizen, who believed that I lived in a fair democratic country, I lost a lot of confidence in the government, and the law, that day.”. The resolution of the dispute meant that for the first time since Timor-Leste’s independence, the Australia-Timor-Leste relationship was not poisoned by the conflict. Select groups of congressmen also receive briefings on specific operation types prior to their occurrence, he said. The Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) was signed in January 2006 by foreign ministers Alexander Downer and Jose Ramos-Horta. It’s a stark contrast to their treatment in 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”. He saw them as “honourable men” who should have been lauded for their actions. Crossbench senator Rex Patrick accused prosecutors of sitting on evidence for three years to avoid a diplomatic incident. “The bottom line here is that Downer (and Woodside) wanted to force East Timor, one of the poorest countries in the world, to surrender most of the revenues from Greater Sunrise, revenue it could have used to deal with its infant mortality rate – currently 45 out of 1,000 children in East Timor don’t live past the age of one,” Patrick told parliament. The cases have opened a debate about the adequacy of Australia’s whistleblowing protections. ABC Fact Check finds Mr … Fernandes, from UNSW, said the case speaks to another critical institutional failing: the inability for Australia’s parliament to scrutinise intelligence operations. A treaty was signed at the United Nations in New York in March 2018. 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… Collaery had flown to The Hague 24 hours earlier to ready Timor-Leste’s case against Australia. “What’s worse is that what they revealed should be deeply shaming to Australia. 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. East Timor’s government will not be deterred in pressing its case to scrap an oil treaty worth billions of dollars over claims of spying by Australia, an international negotiator says. “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.”. The Australia–Indonesia spying scandal developed from allegations made in 2013 by The Guardian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), based on leaked documents, that the Australian Signals Directorate had in 2009 attempted to monitor the mobile phone calls of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife Kristiani Herawati, and senior officials. 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. 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. While CMATS was publicly applauded as a win by both nations, it was in fact another major victory for Australia, given international law clearly favoured a median-line boundary. The revelations were … Instead, secrecy laws should make allowances for disclosures in the public interest, the report said. In October 2004, the Dili bugging operation reportedly commenced during the second round of boundary negotiations between Australia and Timor-Leste. Those who blew the whistle externally experienced at least a third more repercussions than whistleblowers who stayed internal, the research found. Success would give it a significant share of fields worth $40bn-$50bn, helping lift the fledgling nation out of poverty. In the summer of 2013, young law clerk Chloe Preston was sitting alone at Collaery’s home practice in Narrabundah, Canberra. Timor-Leste then took Australia through a compulsory conciliation process under United Nations rules, which against Australia's initial objections, resulted in a new Timor Sea Treaty in 2018. The report also identified a separate need to reform blanket criminal prohibitions on the unauthorised release of information, similar to those used to prosecute Witness K and Collaery case. They drove Bracks to the waterfront café at the Novo Turismo Resort and Spa, where Gusmão was waiting. “This preserves executive freedom while also ensuring a check on executive overreach,” Fernandes said. After years of further negotiations between Canberra and Dili, the end result was a Timor Sea boundary that essentially followed a median line and gave Timor-Leste a larger share of Greater Sunrise. “I can’t think of anything more crass than what has occurred,” he said. 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