Once again, “Witness K” and his lawyer Bernard Collaery have faced another episode in the series of delayed, postponed and secret hearings concerning the revelations of the Australian spying on Timor-Leste.
The hearing on Tuesday August 6 at the Magistrate’s Court Canberra committed Bernard Collaery for trial. In contrast, the lawyers for “Witness K” indicated that he may plead guilty should the facts of the matter be agreed by the parties. (As neither of the two defendants have been furnished by the Public Prosecutor with the complete brief of evidence against them, the facts remain unclear. This is despite the 12 months that have elapsed since charges were laid.) The prospect of Witness K’s guilty plea on August 29 means that after 6 years of relentless government pursuit, the man has been broken.
Bernard Collaery, on the other hand, will face the ACT Supreme Court on August 22.
He described the situation as the government’s attempt to hide its dirty linen.
He said it was dirty political linen under the guise of national security imperatives”. The government, with no challenge from the opposition, continues to pursue these men in a dangerous movement towards institutionalised injustice to conceal illegal and fraudulent actions by the state. The facts should not be forgotten: Australia’s spies dressed up as aid workers to listen in on the Timorese negotiators in 2004 during the deal-making over the Timor Sea.
The government is intent on prosecuting the two men who acted with integrity and honesty in the affair. The government invokes ‘national security’, uses undue secrecy and delay, and has deprived the defendants of the briefs of evidence for months on end. Our democratic institutions themselves are being used to conceal and deceive. This prosecution is a warning to any and every other government official not to act according to their consciences.
The Attorney-General has the power to discontinue the case and has been lobbied to do so by lawyers, judges and academics, but he refuses. He claims the affair relates to “national security”. In fact, personnel and resources were directed away from investigations into the terrorist attacks against Australia in Jakarta, and were used instead to spy on the Timorese. The responses by other persons involved, including past and present politicians are designed to conceal, deny and evade. The Inspector General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) echoes the position of the government, raising serious questions.
More and more people are voicing their opposition to the treatment of “Witness K” and Bernard Collaery. Concerned citizens present at the demonstration outside the Court called out the behaviour of government officials. They used Emile Zola’s words when he accused the French government in the Dreyfus Affair – “J’Accuse!”. These accusations accompanied by statements honouring and applauding the actions of “Witness K” and Bernard Collaery.
The Accuse/Applaud statements were then attached to the doors of the Court. Read them here.