East Timor's government believes it has identified the members of a team of four Australian spies who allegedly bugged its government offices, describing it as "very disturbing" that they apparently used the cover of an aid program.
The revelations came as intelligence and development experts expressed their deep misgivings that aid was apparently used as the pretext for installing and then removing the eavesdropping equipment, saying it jeopardised important aid projects and potentially put Australian aid workers at risk around the world.
"We think we have identified the team of people who came in to do the bugging. We have their names," said Alfredo Pires, East Timor's Natural Resources Minister. "They are males, along with a possible lady spy."
East Timor would keep the names secure, he said. But he noted that at least one of them was still working overseas under the same name and may be at risk "if the names get out over the internet".
Bugging is usually illegal, and these people have presumably committed a crime. If they have, then East Timor should file charges and seek to extradite them from whereever they are hiding. And if that means that they can't work as spies for Australia anymore, then tough shit. Spies are criminals, and these ones need to be held to account.