East Timor bugging: Politicians call for AFP to investigate Australian spies’ role in 2004 operation – Politics
Intelligence whistleblower turned independent MP Andrew Wilkie has called on the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to launch an investigation into the role the nation’s intelligence services played in the bugging of East Timor’s cabinet rooms.
The 2004 incident led to a souring of the relationship between Canberra and East Timor, as the two nations were negotiating a deal on accessing offshore oil deposits at the time.
Last month, Mr Wilkie used parliamentary privilege to reveal the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had lodged criminal charges against Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery and a former spy known as ‘Witness K’ for divulging information about the operation.
But today the Tasmanian MP said senior government officials were the “real criminals — the people who ordered the illegal bugging”.
Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery was charged alongside the former spy “Witness K”. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)
“There’s no way the Police Commissioner can ignore a referral from three Australian senators and one Member of the House of Representatives,” Mr Wilkie said.
“Today is a day of reckoning.”
Mr Wilkie has enlisted the support of Tasmanian Greens senator Nick McKim and South Australian crossbenchers Tim Storer and Rex Patrick in referring the matter to the AFP.
“We wish the police to conduct an investigation to look at who’s involved, who the senior officials are, who the government ministers were, noting all of this has been done in secret,” Mr Wilkie said.
“No-one is above the law.”
Mr Collaery, who is a former ACT attorney-general, has described the charges against him as “heartbreaking”.
A conviction would mean he would be prevented from practising law.
He has fiercely criticised Attorney-General Christian Porter for allowing the charges to be laid, describing the whole process as a threat to freedom of speech.
A letter to the AFP Commissioner signed by independent MP Andrew Wilkie and senators Tim Storer, Nick McKim and Rex Patrick