Federal

Jun 12, 2015

Open and shut: ASIS’ crime, and the Labor-Liberal cover-up

Our foreign spy agency blatantly broke the law in 2004 when it bugged the East Timorese cabinet. But those who lawfully revealed it have been smeared and attacked.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The lawyer at the centre of the East Timor cabinet-bugging scandal has finally broken his silence to defend himself and his client against attacks by Attorney-General George Brandis and Abbott government lawyers.

Lawyer Bernard Collaery says Australia’s foreign intelligence service, ASIS, blatantly breached Australian law in bugging the East Timorese cabinet in 2004 and that the Abbott government, perpetuating a cover-up that began under Julia Gillard, is deliberately smearing his client, the former ASIS officer at the centre of the scandal (known as Witness K), and himself to suppress information about the crime. Following an ASIO raid on Collaery and Witness K in late 2013, Witness K was barred by the government from leaving Australia to give evidence to the International Court of Justice about the East Timorese matter, and he remains blocked from leaving Australia to this day.

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21 comments

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21 thoughts on “Open and shut: ASIS’ crime, and the Labor-Liberal cover-up

  1. leon knight

    Unbelievable stuff, thanks again for the good reporting Bernard.
    What chance of Brandis being sacked for misleading parliament, if he is beyond the law directly?

  2. paddy

    The complete contempt for the rule of law is simply breathtaking. We’re entering scary waters.
    Keep at it Bernard.

  3. zut alors

    ‘We’re at a crucial point where a government desperate to exploit hysteria about terrorism is demanding unfettered power for the executive and its agencies.’

    Currently I am considerably more fearful of the Australian government than of terrorism.

  4. Patricia Gibson

    Dear me ! Dark days in Australian History.

    Reading this article and looking at the draconian laws this government are bringing in – with may I add the approval of Shorten and Co – one feels we are at the crossroads of our Democratic Rights going out of the door!

  5. klewso

    Just what is the “function of the agency”?
    To spy on behalf of Australian commercial interests, on the competitors in other countries as well as the sovereign governments of other countries?
    Is that what we tax-payers are funding?
    Are they allowed to spy on national competitors within Australian too – on behalf of the highest bidder?

  6. Venise Alstergren

    This AM on radio jock’s program-Neil Mitchell-; when asked about Oz government paying ppl smugglers not to bring boats here Tony Abbott virtually trotted out the old Jesuit saw; ‘the end justifies the means.’???!!! Shades of the great Australian Wheat Board Scandal during John Howard’s tenure.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    Why does the Abbott government want to lock up terrorists when they are solemnly paying people smugglers not to come to our shores?

  8. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Venise, next they will be paying terrorists a couple of grand to not come home. Or maybe offering them Newstart, payable wherever they are, indefinitely, to help them make a new start, back where they came from or where they currently are. Still wondering about that Aussie bloke hanging at the Australian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, waiting for a replacement passport – he lost the old one while ‘working’ to support Syrians in Syria. He’s a proper born-in-the-country Aussie, down on his luck whilst outside the Lucky Country. Is Geo Brandis holding him hostage or just Peter Dutton? How un-Australian is that?

  9. MJM

    Respect to both Bernards – Keane and Collaery.

    The complete disregard for the rule of law is terrifying and, like others, I am much more frightened of terrorism from my own government than from strangers.

  10. James O'Neill

    “If that unfettered power is to include immunity from the consequences of breaking the law, then there is no rule of law in Australia.” And that is exactly the position we have reached. We have decided also for example, that engaging in an unlawful war of aggression (Iraq 2003), the “supreme international crime” according to the Nuremberg Tribunal is something for which its perpetrators should not be held accountable. The response to 9/11 and that war marked the real beginning of an unending slide down the slope of contempt for basic notions of the law, to have now reached the point that Bernard makes encapsulated in the first quote. That Labor are no better only compounds the tragedy.

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