To all supporters. No action is planned yet, but this matter won’t rest, be assured.
In solidarity with Bernard and witness ‘K’
Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia Inc
AETFA-SA, PO BOX 240, GOODWOOD SA 5034
Affiliated to the Timor Sea Justice Alliance (TSJ
MEDIA STATEMENT 28 JUNE 2018:
FAIR MINDED AUSTRALIANS SAY DON’T CHARGE
WITNESS K & BERNARD COLLAERY – HONOUR THEM
The Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA released the following statement today following the move by the Australian Government to charge Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery with conspiracy:
“Australians who value human rights and fairness between nations are outraged today to learn that the Turnbull government intends to charge Witness K and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, with conspiracy.
Witness K, a former Australian military intelligence officer, blew the whistle about an operation undertaken by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to spy on Timor-Leste”s Government in 2004 during the early days of negotiations between Timor-Leste and Australia over the positioning of their maritime boundary
The operation was very controversial and was described by the former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions ( DPP) Nicholas Cowdery QC as a ‘conspiracy to defraud.’
Independent federal member for Denison, .Andrew Wilkie, has said that it was both illegal and unscrupulous.
It is obvious that the Australian action had nothing to do with protecting Australia’s security. It was about giving Australia an unfair advantage over the poorest nation in SE Asia regarding the sharing of resources in the Timor Sea.
Bernard Collaery also acted for the Timor-Leste Government in the International Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague that was responsible for coordinating the conciliation process between Australia and Timor-Leste. This followed the decision by the Timor-Leste Government in 2013 to oppose the previous unfair Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS ) treaty that it was bullied into in 2006. This treaty was in violation of the UN.Convention of the Law of the Sea.
Following this move in a bid that appeared to be an attempt to pervert the course of justice, George Brandis,, (former Australia Attorney General) ordered the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to raid Bernard Collaery’s office to remove documents related to the case. In addition, he ordered ASIO personnel and to confiscate the passport of Witness K to prevent him from going to the PCA to be a key witness.
However, despite these actions by the Turnbull Government, in March this year, Timor-Leste had a significant moral victory over Australia when it was decided that the maritime boundary would be along the midline between the coasts of the two nations.
Whether the Turnbull Government likes it or not, Timor-Leste has been vindicated on the matter of the maritime boundary between our two nations.
It should just accept this decision and desist from taking any action against these Witness K and Mr Collaery. Fair minded Australians regard them as heroes who assisted Timor-Leste, our great World War 2 ally, to obtain justice.They are more worthy of receiving national awards than threats of imprisonment.
Andrew Wilkie believes that the charging of the men by the Federal Attorney General Christian Porter will create an even greater scandal for Australia.
No matter how much it claims that this matter is about national security, it is obvious that Australia is viewed as trying to take a commercial advantage over a smaller nation that had suffered a very brutal occupation and now seeks to take vindictive action against Witness K and Bernard Collaery. There should be no suggestion that they should face a closed court.
It should also accept the advice of Dr Jose Ramos Horta, the Nobel Peace Laureate and former PM and president of Timor-Leste, and return Witness K’s passport to him.
In addition, the Australian Government should return to Timor-Leste all the money it has accrued from the oil and gas resources that it has taken from an area at is now acknowledged under international law to belong to Timor.
The Australia government’s cruel treatment of asylum seekers, the shabby treatment of the East Timorese during the illegal and brutal occupation of their nation by the Indonesian military followed by the attempts to steal its urgently needed resources have already given us a bad name internationally.
It has to be said that Witness K and Bernard Collaery have both acted with great integrity and fairness and are deserving of honours.
The same cannot be said about the Turnbull Government.
Andrew (Andy) Alcock
AETFA SA Inc
Phone: 61 8 83710480
0457 827 014
28 June 2018 MEDIA RELEASE BY BERNARD COLLAERY
Former ACT Attorney-General and lawyer, Bernard Collaery, has disclosed today that he, and Witness K, have received a Summons returnable before the ACT Magistrates Court charging them with conspiring to breach Section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001. As Section 39 stood at the relevant time, it provides for a two-year or 120 unit penalty. Section 39 makes punishable the revealing of information of any kind, even arguably unlawful activity, concerning ASIS.
There is no allegation by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions of any national security breach.
“Fourteen years after the bugging of the Dili cabinet during revenue negotiations between Australia and Timor-Leste as joint venturers, over four years after the raid on my chambers and Witness K’s home, and three years after I gave a public address in which I explained that no issues of national security were compromised, Witness K, a loyal Australian patriot, and myself are to be put before the Court on a charge of conspiracy for revealing what a former NSW DPP Nicholas Cowdery QC has described as a ‘conspiracy to defraud.’
The charge of conspiracy against Witness K and myself is Kafkaesque. I have no more to say about it. It will be vigorously defended.
The thought that I will appear as a defendant in the Court in which I have practised for most of my career is devastating for myself, my family, and our legal team. I am also charged with protesting the search of my chambers and revealing the seizure of my Brief and the unlawful activity of the government to a number of ABC journalists. I do not know the extent to which those journalists who reported my comments may or may not be brought into these proceedings.
If their careers are to be affected, I very much regret that such an event would happen in our country. My legal team acted at all times with the support of eminent legal advice. I was privileged to have sought justice for the poorest country in Asia, for a people with a high infant mortality rate and to whom we owe a debt of honour from the events of World War II.
I can reveal that as a young man, nearly fifty years ago when memories were fresh, I received training from an Australian intelligence agency during which a former Z Force commando told me of the sacrifice the Timorese people had made in saving the lives of our young soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, his comrades, in World War II. I have never forgotten that. I am disappointed that an Australian veteran and very good person, Witness K, has been denied a passport now for more than four years, has been unable in retirement to enjoy life fully, and is to now be tried with me for conspiracy.
This prosecution, approved of by the Federal Attorney-General, can only mean one thing. Namely, that bugging the out-of-session deliberations during revenue negotiations between joint parties to a treaty is a legitimate function of ASIS. I do not believe that the Australian people will support the notion that our Secret Service should join in a conspiracy to defraud the people of the poorest nation in Asia. The Attorney-General expects this hearing to be held behind closed doors. I do not believe the Australian people will support this. It was never, and can never be, a legitimate function of our Secret Service to join in, ‘a conspiracy to defraud.’ This prosecution sends a wrong message to the good men and women in our Secret Service. They do not join the Service to take part in corporate plunder. Using the terrorist powers to shroud the proceedings in this matter is unbecoming a liberal democracy. The proposition by the Liberal Party that it can use ASIS in plundering the resources of one of the poor nations to our north has to be tested in open court.
There must be humanity and honesty in our dealings with developing nations. I call upon the Australian people to stand with me and Witness K in saying, ‘We Care.’”