East Timor bugging case referred to AFP

Bernard Collaery and Andrew Wilkie in June.

Bernard Collaery and Andrew Wilkie in June. Photo: AAP

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been urged to investigate whether Australia broke the law by bugging East Timor’s cabinet rooms during gas and oil treaty talks.

A spy-turned-whistle blower, known as Witness K, and his lawyer Bernard Collaery are facing criminal charges after revealing the 2004 spy operation.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who last month used parliamentary privilege to reveal the charges, has written to the AFP asking them to investigate the conduct of federal government officials.

Mr Wilkie penned a letter along with senators Nick McKim, Rex Patrick and Andrew Storer.

They allege the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) operation was a “conspiracy to defraud” East Timor.

“We’re hopeful that they (the AFP) will now have a good hard look at this so that real criminals can be brought to account – the people who ordered the illegal bugging,” Mr Wilkie said on Thursday.

An AFP spokesman said the referral was being assessed but wouldn’t comment further.

Witness K and Mr Collaery are facing conspiracy charges and maximum penalties of two years’ jail.

Mr Collaery has also been charged with communicating ASIS information.

He has previously slammed the charges as “Kafkaesque”, while the Australian Lawyers Alliance has also hit out against Mr Collaery’s charges.

Mr Wilkie said Mr Collaery was in the UK at the moment but was “quite anxious” about the case, which could drag out for years.

Witness K, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service agent, was a key witness for East Timor in a case against Australia over the bugging allegations.

East Timor dropped the spy case against Australia last year as an act of goodwill before signing a new resources treaty.

The two countries signed a renegotiated treaty in March, carving up $56 billion in potential revenue from oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.


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