australia east timor spying

John Howard meets Australian troops leading the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste on 1 September 1999. Then you have to map the geometry of the office, check the acoustics, work out where to place the listening devices, and because it’s going to go on for several weeks or months, you need a power source.” And in this case, where the cover story involved renovating the government offices under the guise of an Australian aid program, Asis needed skilled tradespeople to carry out the renovations. “You need physical access to the room, so you have to invent a plausible story. Collaery’s charges related to an Australian Secret Intelligence Service operation in Dili in 2004, in which Canberra is believed to have recorded Timor-Leste officials’ private discussions about maritime boundary negotiations with Australia. Australia ordered by The Hague to stop spying on island formally known as East Timor during dispute over £21.5 billion oil and gas fields George Brandis, Australia’s attorney-general Photo: … Witness K’s home was simultaneously raided and his passport confiscated. 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. Civil society groups have printed “solidarity with Bernard Collaery” T-shirts and banners, which Fernandes says will soon be a visible presence across Dili. 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. 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. Files from the house and office of Canberra-based lawyer for the East Timorese government, Bernard Collaery, were removed by ASIO in the raid. 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… East Timor now wants the treaty scrapped on the grounds that the alleged spying gave Australia an unfair advantage in commercial negotiations. 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. Retired diplomat Bruce Haigh says Asis officers involved in the Dili operation were put in an impossible position: “People in Asis are not devoid of conscience. He said he would travel to Canberra if necessary, to give evidence in support of Collaery and Witness K, because, he told me, it would be against his conscience not to. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government is intensifying the drive, commenced under the previous Labor government, to shut down East Timor’s legal case and prevent further public exposure of the spying operation, which began in 2004 during negotiations in Dili on the $40 billion oil and gas treaty. The officers produced a warrant, most of which had been blacked out, and offered a simple explanation for their presence: “national security”. 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. 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. “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. Australia defends a raid on the offices of a lawyer representing East Timor in a spying row case against Australia at The Hague. 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. It was conveniently moored opposite the waterfront white-stuccoed Palácio do Governo. Those who blew the whistle externally experienced at least a third more repercussions than whistleblowers who stayed internal, the research found. Australia has been involved in five cases at the ICJ. 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”. On 3 May 2013, the then foreign minister Bob Carr and attorney general Mark Dreyfus issued a statement advising that Timor-Leste had initiated arbitration: “Timor-Leste argues that ... Australia did not conduct the CMATS negotiations in 2004 in good faith by engaging in espionage ... Australia has always conducted itself in a professional manner in diplomatic negotiations and conducted the CMATS treaty negotiations in good faith.”. 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. 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. Other whistleblowers have faced threats and termination for revealing information clearly in the public interest. The pair’s actions embarrassed powerful forces within government, intelligence, and corporate Australia. Australia is under further pressure over spying in the region, with East Timor accusing spies of bugging its cabinet room for commercial advantage, and threatening to scrap a … Australia gave de jure recognition to East Timor’s incorporation into Indonesia. The listening devices would reveal Timor-Leste’s bottom line, its negotiating tactics and the competing views of cabinet members. 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. “They want Australia to be a good neighbour, not an eavesdropper who breaks the 10th commandment repeatedly. 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. 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. 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. Collaery helped the Timor-Leste government build a case against Australia at The Hague, alleging the bugging had rendered the treaty void. It’s a stark contrast to their treatment in Australia. “What’s worse is that what they revealed should be deeply shaming to Australia. The prosecution of Collaery and Witness K throws a spotlight on the nexus between politics and intelligence, and the unfettered power of ministers in Australia’s intelligence regime. In Timor-Leste, the pair were seen as heroes. The treaty was signed. 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. As Fernandes explains, installation is a delicate operation. David Irvine, the director general of Asis at the time of the Dili maritime boundary negotiations, was then director general of Asio. 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. As Collaery told Steve Bracks in April 2020, the Timorese “knew they’d been dudded, they just didn’t know how”. “It was not what you do to a friendly state. Outside, the suburban streets were quiet, save for the gentle hum of the beehives Collaery keeps in his front garden. The revelations were … In the summer of 2013, young law clerk Chloe Preston was sitting alone at Collaery’s home practice in Narrabundah, Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP, Witness K and the 'outrageous' spy scandal that failed to shame Australia. Such an approach was recommended in 2010 by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into secrecy laws but has not been implemented. Witness K’s passport was seized, preventing him from flying to The Hague. Last month, the Australian Capital Territory supreme court ruled that essential parts of the trial would be heard in secret. They did this in the Nuclear Test case (Sir Ninian Stephen) and also in the East Timor Case (Sir Garfield Barwick). A crime against one of the poorest countries in the world, by one of the richest. Oil and gas bubble up from a small bore hole sunk by Australians near Vikeke, Timor-Leste. He saw them as “honourable men” who should have been lauded for their actions. As a former US ambassador to Croatia, Galbraith had frequent access to US intelligence. The 2002 Timor Sea Treaty was intended as an interim agreement, that is without prejudice to the position … 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. including agents from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act, David McBride, a military lawyer who leaked documents, Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into secrecy laws, used parliamentary privilege earlier this year, Australian security and counter-terrorism. In Timor-Leste, it was seen as yet another betrayal. Witness K was to be Timor-Leste’s lead witness. 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. Three months after the treaty was signed, independent MP Andrew Wilkie revealed the Australian government had approved the prosecution of Witness K and Collaery. Australians accept the need for extreme secrecy around spying operations aimed at combating terrorism and other security threats. The raids were just the start. He said Australia could consider adopting the US model, where intelligence and judiciary committees are regularly briefed about intelligence collection programs. Bracks says Gusmão wanted to know what he could do to support Collaery, who had been his lawyer following Timor’s independence from Indonesia in 1999. Never has he seen his country attempt an operation as commercially driven as Australia’s was. The digital recordings were then allegedly couriered across town to the Australian embassy, and sent to Canberra for analysis.”. 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. Australia’s objective in the negotiations was to retain rights to hydrocarbon-rich areas of the Timor Sea much closer to Timor than to Australia.In the early 1960s, Australia issued petroleum exploration permits in the Timor Sea to Woodside, now Australia’s largest natural gas producer, in areas contested by Indonesia and Portuguese Timor. “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.”. Preston remembers her shock at opening the door to 10 officers, including agents from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio). “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. The spy obtained permission to talk to an approved lawyer, Bernard Collaery, a barrister and one-time attorney general for the ACT. Clinton Fernandes, an Australian Intelligence Corps officer from 1997 to 2006 now at the University of New South Wales, is not so constrained. It was pretty shocking.”. 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. “With the diplomacy out of the way it’s time to bury the bodies,” Wilkie said under parliamentary privilege. “That was what was really important to them. Collaery is restricted by national security legislation from talking about the operation. In 2013, the Australian government revealed the allegations of spying. The agreed boundary skirted the edges of the permits issued to Woodside and other companies – well north of the median line. Australia is accused of spying on East Timor leaders in 2004 when the two countries were negotiating a gas treaty. “This preserves executive freedom while also ensuring a check on executive overreach,” Fernandes said. She is a researcher and author of Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea. Support Global Voices. “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 cases have opened a debate about the adequacy of Australia’s whistleblowing protections. Those forces would wait almost a decade to exact revenge. 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. 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 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 Dili spying operation shamed Australia to the negotiating table. Collaery helped the Timor-Leste government build a case against Australia at The Hague, alleging the bugging had rendered the treaty void. Collaery had flown to The Hague 24 hours earlier to ready Timor-Leste’s case against Australia. After a border dispute and spying scandal, can Australia and Timor-Leste be ... invasion and forced integration of East Timor in 1975-76. Australia refused Portugal’s requests for talks and instead negotiated a treaty with Indonesia in 1972. Timor-Leste’s Jose Ramos-Horta and Australia’s Alexander Downer shake hands after signing the Timor Sea treaty on 12 January 2006. The pair were charged with conspiring to breach section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act for allegedly communicating information they obtained in the course of employment or an agreement with Asis. “It was outrageous,” Galbraith tells Guardian Australia from his home in the US. Comes as Australia pursues a range of whistleblowers with vigour the alleged spying Australia... Forces within government, intelligence, and seized their legal briefs in that area Timor-Leste. Shame Australia requests for australia east timor spying and instead negotiated a treaty with Indonesia in 1972 eavesdropper who breaks the 10th repeatedly. 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