Thursday, July 07, 2022

Some light in Australia

Back in 2013, a former ASIS agent blew the whistle on how the Australian government had illegally bugged the leaders of East Timor in order to listen in on their negotiating position over oil and gas rights in the Timor Sea. When the issue was raised in the International Court of Justice, the Australian government raided the homes of both the whsitleblower and East Timor's Australian lawyer, then charged them with revealing classified information. But today, at least part of that persecution has been ended, with the Australian government dropping against lawyer Bernard Collaery:

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has ordered the Commonwealth to drop the prosecution of lawyer Bernard Collaery, four years after he was charged with conspiring to release classified information about an alleged spying operation in East Timor

Mr Collaery was charged in 2018 for allegedly helping his client, an ex-spy known only as Witness K, to reveal details of the classified ASIS mission.

This is good, but its not enough - Collaery was persecuted for five years, essentially for representing a whistleblower. His client, "Witness K", was forced to plead guilty and convicted. They should be pardoned, and both should be compensated. The people who orchestrated that persecution need to be fired. But most importantly, Australia's "national security" laws need to be repealed to protect the public interest in leaking, so this can never happen again.