Sun, 20 Sep 2020

Secret trials threaten open justice in Australia

02 Aug 2020, 06:27 GMT+10

Whistleblowers, lawyers and journalists face prosecutions without proper public scrutiny

A government illegally bugs the office of a foreign country's Prime Minister during treaty negotiations. The spy in charge who turned whistleblower and his lawyer face secret trials. Connections are exposed between government politicians and a big oil company that gained financially from the treaty.

A cold war spy novel or a modern scandal involving Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) or America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)? Think again!

Spying on Timor Leste

In 2004 Australia and the new nation of Timor Leste were negotiating a treaty over their border in the Timor Sea. The future of rich oil and gas fields was at stake. The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) bugged PM Xanana Gusmao's office to steal an advantage in the talks. The Australian Foreign Minister at the time, AlexanderDowner, apparently ordered the surveillance. He later took a consultancy with Woodside Petroleum, the company that benefited from the original treaty. There have been other suggestions of conflicts of interest. That treaty was eventually renegotiated in 2018 after the deception was made public.

Global Voices reported on the unfolding story in 2013:

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