Australia rejects East Timor’s demands to return documents seized in ASIO raid defending last year’s ASIO raids on a lawyer for East Timor and expressed offence at claims aired by the tiny nation in its case at the International Court of Justice.
East Timor will launch a case in The Hague alleging the Australia Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) covertly recorded Timorese ministers and officials during oil and gas negotiations in Dili in 2004, allegedly giving Australia the upper hand.
The Dili negotiations in question led to the lucrative Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) treaty, with both countries agreeing to a 50-50 split of an estimated $40 billion in revenue from the gas development.
A key witness in the Timorese case – a former spy turned whistleblower – has been arrested in a separate raid in Canberra.
ASIO and the Government have been accused of being “crass” by “muzzling the oral evidence of the prime witness” by Mr Collaery, the lawyer representing East Timor.
Mr Collaery says the witness, who was expected to give oral evidence at The Hague, is “not some disaffected spy” but the former director of all technical operations at ASIS.
Documents seized in the raid show ASIS undertook an elaborate cover operation using Australian aid organisations to bug the office of East Timor’s prime minister and senior staff.