Media Coverage

October 2019

Blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing should not destroy your life
Nassim Khadem – ABC News – 23 October 2019

Australia urged to return $5bn and launch Royal Commission
Helen Davidson and Ben Doherty – The Guardian – 19 October 2019

Court stops ‘amicus’ bid in bugging case
Finbar O’Mallon – Newcastle Herald – 17 August 2019

Bernard Collaery case: Private citizen’s bid to be heard in East Timor bugging case shut down
Alexandra Back – The Canberra Times – 17 October 2019

The conference banning whistleblower speeches
Crikey Inquirer – 16 October 2019
The Australian Cyber Conference 2019 is organised by the government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). Two conference speakers, Dr Suelette Dreyfus and Thomas Drake were cancelled at the last minute.  Dreyfus is a major Australian academic specialising in information technology and whistleblowing, Evading comment by these experts flows from the government’s policy toward whistleblowers who reveal government wrongdoing, e.g. Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery concerning espionage against Timor-Leste.

Summary of Timor Sea Events since 2016
La’o Hamutuk – 10 October 2019

“Harm statement” to be released to former spy Witness K
Alexandra Back – Canberra Times – 8 October 2019
It would be interesting to know what ‘harm’ Witness K has done.

Someone blew the whistle on Trump – if it happened in Australia we might never hear about it
Ben Oquist – The Guardian – 1 Octoer 2019
Instead of whistleblowing protections or powerful intelligence committees Australia has raids on journalists.


September 2019

Australia’s true relationship with Timor-Leste
Sophie Raynor –Eureka Street – 9 September 2019

Crossbench senator pushes to fix ‘shameful’ historic wrong against Timor-Leste
Christopher Knaus – The Guardian – 9 September 2019
Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick wants to overturn the decisions that limit Australia’s exposure to international courts.

Drop the Collaery Prosecution: An Interview With Australian Lawyers Alliance’s Greg Barnes
Paul Gregoire – Sydney Criminal Lawyers – 5 September 2019

Stop punishing Witness K for telling the truth on Timor
Editorial – Sydney Morning Herald – 3 September 2019

Australia confronts past with East Timor
Greg Roberts – AAP Channel 7 – 3 September 2019

Australian Lawyers’ Association says charges against ACT A-G must be dropped as tensions build
Naomi Neilson – Lawyers Weekly – 2 September 2019

Timor Leste and Australia: a loveless affair at twenty
Binoy Kampmark – Dissident Voice – 1 September 2019

China Eyes Stake in Southeast Asia’s Newest Oil Frontier
Tsvetana Paraskova – – 1 September 2019


August 2019

Jose Ramos-Horta urges Australia to drop Witness K, whistleblower charges
SBS  – 30 August 2019
Timor-Leste had moved on since the spying scandal and so should Australia by dropping charges against the whistleblowers who exposed it, says Jose Ramos Horta.

Australia spied, cheated and has now lost its moral compass
Dr Richie Gun – Civil Liberties Australia – 30 August 2019

PM rules out East Timor gas compensation
AAP Channel 9 – 30 August 2019

Secret whistleblower trial will only add to Australia’s shame over spying cover-up
Anthony Whealy – Sydney Morning Herald – August 29, 2019

Witness K lawyer alleges ‘extraordinary unexplained roadblock’ in funding his case
Paul Karp – The Guardian – 29 August 2019

The saga of Bernard Collaery and Witness K continues
Ernst Willheim – Pearls and Irritations – 28 August 2019

What Four Corners left out of the Witness K story
Clinton Fernandes – Crikey – 28 August 2019

This immoral act against a decent man diminishes all who pursue it
Chris Uhlmann – Sydney Morning Herald – 27 August 2019

Former attorney-general George Brandis had ‘misgivings’ about prosecuting Witness K and Collaery
Steve Cannane and Peter Cronau – ABC Four Corners – 26 August 2019

Secrets, spies and trials: national security vs the public’s right to know
Steve Cannane and Peter Cronau – ABC Four Corners TRAILER – 26 August 2019

Trumped Up: Wiki cables show Australia thinks Iran is not the aggressor
Clinton Fernandes – Michael – 23 August 2019

Collaery battles on, but who cares?
Robert Macklin – Canberra City News – 20 August 2019

Casually threatening letter exposes bureaucrats’ deep-seated contempt for media
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 14 August 2019
Don’t be surprised that the Attorney-General’s Department is threatening media outlets; its loathing for media freedom goes back a long way.

From Richard Boyle and Witness K to media raids: it’s time whistleblowers had better protection
A.J. Brown – The Conversation – 13 August 2019
Australia becoming a “police state” amid efforts to silence whistleblowers

Witness K and the “outrageous” spy scandal that failed to shame Australia
Christopher Knaus – The Guardian – 10 August 2019

Richard Ackland – The Saturday Paper, Gadfly – 10 August 2019
Leading the charge in the Collaery–Witness K protests is Susan Connelly of the Josephite Sisters. She rallies the troops outside the court and with ceaseless missives from her bunker in Lakemba.
“J’accuse.” Where’s Émile Zola when you need him?

Bec Strating on the State of Australia-Timor Leste Ties
Prashanth Parameswaran – The Diplomat – 13 August 2019
A conversation on the past, present, and future dynamics in Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste.

Dutton’s dark police state creep
Michelle Pini – Independent Australia- 8 August 2019

Australian democracy has finally, painfully, reached its nadi

Crikey Readers – Crikey – 8 August 2019

The big question that has gone unanswered in the Witness K saga
Madeleine Miller – Crikey – 7 August 2019
Did our government break the law in the 2004 bugging incident? Australians deserve to know.

Witness K and Collaery’s influence to be felt in Timor Leste
Sally Whyte – The Canberra Times – 7 August 2019
“It’s very instructive that the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition are going to Timor Leste to celebrate a renewal of bilateral relations and the two people most responsible for the renegotiation of the treaty are in fact Witness K and Collaery, who are facing legal sanction,” Professor Fernandes said.

Australia’s shame: Witness K punished for his service, while the guilty go free
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 7 August 2019
After years of relentless pressure, Witness K has pleaded guilty to revealing information about ASIS’ criminal conduct in Timor Leste. It is a shameful reward for a man who diligently served his country.

Witness K to plead guilty in Timor-Leste spying case, but co-accused to fight charges
Radio National Drive – 6 August 2019
Professor Clinton Fernandes explains the implications of the hearing.

Witness K to plead guilty as lawyer Bernard Collaery committed to stand trial
Alexandra Back – Canberra Times – 6 August 2019

It is a national disgrace to see Witness K treated like this
Crikey – 6 August 2019
From Witness K’s lawyer: ‘Let us be under no misapprehension. Mighty forces are at play here to hide dirty political linen.’

Witness K to plead guilty to breaching intelligence act as lawyer Bernard Collaery committed to trial
ABC News – 6 August 2019

Witness K’s endless trial
Geraldine DoogueSaturday Extra – 3 August 2019
Clinton Fernandes, Professor of International and Political Studies at UNSW Canberra
Senator Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance senator for South Australia.
In 2012 an intelligence officer known as ‘Witness K’ revealed the covert spy operation to bug the offices of Timor Leste’s government. Now he and his lawyer face prosecution. It’s a case many in the legal, political and academic professions feel deeply uneasy about.


July 2019

Timor-Leste and Australia have little to celebrate if Witness K and Bernard Collaery are not free
José Ramos-Horta – 31 Jul 2019
The trial of the former ASIS spy and his lawyer undermines the already complicated relationship between two neighbours, writes Timor-Leste’s former president. He calls on the Timorese President to bestow the Order of Timor-Leste on Witness K and Bernard Collaery.

Witness K, Bernard Collaery could have hearings split, court hears
Alexandra Back – The Canberra Times – 30 July 2019
The case of a former spy and his lawyer who exposed an Australian bugging operation against the tiny nation of East Timor could be split and heard in two separate jurisdictions, a court has heard.

Our country is a better place because of journalists and whistleblowers: Andrew Wilkie MP
Talk given by Andrew Wilkie – 30 July 2019 –
In 2003 Andrew Wilkie resigned his position at ONA so that he could speak out about his view that Sadam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction…. He lost his job and “became unemployable in Canberra.” After receiving death threats, having his reputation trashed, losing his marriage, being dropped by friends, and many other consequences as a result of speaking the truth, eventually Wilkie was elected as an independent member of parliament. He spoke about his experiences and the importance of free media.

Australia approves treaty with East Timor over gas royalties
Rod McGurk 30 July 2019

Australia has pocketed millions in revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas projects
Anne Barker, Charlie Scheiner – ABC Radio – 30 July 2019

Is ASIS feeling unloved?
Stephen Easton – The Mandarin – 30 July 2019
Asked why the public should accept foreign spies didn’t break the law or act contrary to Australian “values” the head of ASIS says the question of public confidence is “really important” to him.

National security being used to stifle public interest journalism, former judges warn
Christopher Knaus – The Guardian – 27 July 2019
The newly-formed Centre for Public Integrity has brought together a powerful collection of former judges, lawyers, and integrity experts to push for a strong federal anti-corruption body, champion donations and lobbying reform, and protect Australia’s various accountability institutions, including the media.

How Australia trashed its legacy in Timor-Leste
Sophie Raynor – Crikey – 26 July 2019
It’s almost 20 years since Australia led peacekeepers into the country but our true relationship is one threaded with manipulation, deception, bullying and greed.

Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Continental Shelf: Australia’s Timor Sea Maritime Boundary
Vivian Louise Forbes – Future Directions International – 25 Jul 2019
Ms Forbes believes that the Government of Australia was pressured to forfeit its ‘seabed rights’ in the name of ‘equitable principles’ and ‘social justice’, regardless of the fact that geographical reality and the ‘special circumstances of the case’ that are perceived to apply in this instance were totally disregarded. That said, Australia had apparently nailed itself into the “coffin-shaped” Timor Gap Treaty’s Zone of Co-operation over the continental shelf issue in 1989 and again on 14 March 1997, when it signed in Perth an Agreement with Indonesia relating to certain maritime boundaries. Finally, successive governments were persuaded, even pressured, to accede to demands from Timor-Leste for a larger proportion of Australia’s continental shelf and access to the hydrocarbon reserves contained therein, in agreements during 2002, 2006, 2013 and 2018. (Report has to be downloaded.)

Attorney-General not rethinking spy case
Marnie Banger – AAP – 24 July 2019

Bernard Collaery and Witness K ‘heroes’: Greens Senator Nick McKim
Kirsten Lawson, Alexandra Back – The Canberra Times – 16 July 2019

Timor spying
Juanite Phillips, Greg Jennett, Emma Alberici
Media Watch – ABC – 2 July 2018

Lawyer and witness face charges under spy laws, raising questions of openness and accountability
Professor Clinton Fernandes – ADFA – 2 July 2018
As lawyer Bernard Collaery and his client face criminal charges regarding the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, there are many more questions to be answered in this case.


June 2019

Timor debt ‘could open door to China navy’
Ben Packham – The Australian – 25 June 2019

Federal senator lashes attempt to shut down media and whistleblowers
Senator Rex Patrick – Sydney Morning Herald – 9 June 2019

Whistleblower protections ‘a sham’, says lawyer whose leaks led to ABC raids
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 6 June 2019

Shooting the Messengers
Hamish McDonald – Inside Story – 6 June 2019

The raid on the ABC shows we need a law to protect journalists and their sources
Peter Greste – The Guardian – 6 June 2019
Parliament has passed a slew of national security laws that limit and even criminalise the fundamental work of the press.

The AFP media raids aim to suppress the truth. Without it we head into the heart of darkness
Richard Flanagan – The Guardian – 5 June 2019

Bernard Collaery on ABC radio with Linda Mottram
ABC  –
5 June 2019

Witness K lawyer says raids on media show Australia becoming ‘oppressive democracy’
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 5 June 2019


May 2019

ABC missing in action on Witness K and Bernard Collaery persecution
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 30 May 2019

How the Witness K/Collaery case is being delayed into oblivion
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 25 May 2019
Inordinate delays mean justice is being denied.

We prosecute whistleblowers who expose government misconduct
Paul Gregoire – The Big Smoke – 8 May 2019

April 2019

Australia will pay back Timor-Leste’s oil revenue, Jose Ramos-Horta says.
Helen Davidson – The Guardian – 21 April 2019
Former president says he has faith his country’s far richer neighbour will not quarrel over revenue it wrongly received.

All about the oil: a history of Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste
Kishor Napier-Raman – Crikey – 17 April 2019
Australia views itself as Timor-Leste’s liberator. But the reality is that Timor-Leste has suffered for decades because of Australia’s pursuit of oil revenue above all else.

Australia accused of ‘siphoning’ millions in Timor-Leste oil revenue
Helen Davidson – The Guardian – 16 April 2019

Kafka in Australia: the trial of Witness K
Susan Connelly – Eureka Street –6 April 2019

March 2019

Former judge says delays in Witness K case an ‘abandonment’ of open and fair justice
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 27 March 2019
Anthony Whealy says the attorney general must explain secrecy and delays in case stemming from Timor-Leste bugging. “If the material is so significant a danger to national security if disclosed, then the result should be that the proceedings are abandoned,”  Judge Whealy said.

How the Witness K/Collaery case is being delayed into oblivion
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 25 March 2019
How the major Australian political manipulation of law and justice, and how we are all being duped.


February 2019

East Timor spy scandal: Jury could hear Collaery, Witness K case
Alexandra Back, The Canberra Times, 28 February, 2019
An account of the secret hearing on 28 February, which signalled another secret hearing in August.

Secret Trials: The illegal bugging of the Timor Leste Cabinet and the extraordinary prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K
Ernst Willheim – 7 February 2019
Australians reading about secret trials in foreign countries tend to content themselves in the belief that in Australia we have an open court system and an independent judiciary. After all, freedom of speech, the rule of law and an open and independent court system are basic bulwarks of our democracy. Aren’t they? This brief paper challenges that comfortable assumption.


January 2019

Our intelligence agencies are out of control – an edited repost
John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations – 17 January 2019

Witness K case: prosecutors dump brief of evidence on last working day of legal year
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 9 January 2019

December 2018

Suppression orders and lawyers’ arrogance undermine democracy
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 13 December 2018
The resort to suppression orders by our courts undermines faith in the legal system and is used by the legal industry to avoid scrutiny.

Witness K and Bernard Collaery have been named Person of the Year by
Crikey – 19 December 2018

November 2018

“Australia’s Watergate” set for trial over East Timor spying claims
Jamie Smyth – Financial Times – 1 November 2018
The trial of a former Australian spy could shed light on allegations that Canberra used its intelligence services to defraud its impoverished neighbour East Timor during talks over gas contracts worth up to $40bn.

The controversial law that will decide the future of the Witness K trial
Madeleine Miller – Crikey – 15 November 2018
The Witness K and Bernard Collaery case could well continue behind closed doors, prompting great concern over their right to a fair trial. But who gets to make the decision?

Government goes all out to hide the trial of K and Collaery from public
Bernard Keane and Clinton Fernandes – Crikey – 8 November, 2018
The government is trying dirty tricks in its efforts to prevent the public from knowing about its persecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery.

Witness K lawyers in fight to head off closed court hearing
Paul Karp – The Guardian – 7 November 2018
Lawyer Bernard Collaery and Witness K are being prosecuted for disclosing that Australia spied on East Timor-Leste.


October 2018

Meet the Timor-Leste 12 who could benefit from the Witness K cover-up
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 28 October 2018
Meet them:
Alexander Downer, John Howard, Julia Gillard, Bob Carr, Mark Dreyfus, David Irvine, Nick Warner, Woodside Petroleum, Sarah McNaughton, Christian Porter, George Brandis and Margaret Twomey.

The fight to keep the Witness K case secret
Jonathan PearlmanThe Saturday Paper -13 October 2018

Government sat on Witness K evidence for three years despite advice
Steve Cannane – ABC News –  6 October 2018

Witness K scandal part of a long history of pandering to resource companies
Bernard Keane –  Crikey – 5 October 2019
The Witness K scandal and attempts to cover it up show how there has been bipartisan agreement to let commercial interests dictate Australia’s foreign policy.

September 2018

Senator asks why prosecutors sat on Witness K evidence for three years
Christopher KnauseThe Guardian – 20 September 2018

Labor MP Julian Hill criticises Witness K prosecution
Katharine Murphy – The Guardian – 19 September 2018

Labor has serious questions to answer about Witness K
Bernard Keane Crikey -19 September 2018

As Witness K trial opens, there are questions over secrecy
Clinton FernandesThe Conversation -13 September 2018

As Witness K trial opens, questions over how much of Timor-Leste spying case to keep secret from public
Clinton Fernandes – The Conversation -13 September 2018

As politicians frolic, the Witness K scandal unfolds
Bernard KeaneCrikey – 13 September 2018
It is a denial of justice to make defendants wait over 12 months before even preliminary matters are decided.

Witness K scandal: Case makes first appearance in court
Alexandra BackCanberra Times – 12 September 2018


August 2018
NSW Labor to oppose “inappropriate” prosecution of spy Witness K and his lawyer
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 14 August 2018

July 2018

Australia urged to drop Witness K prosecution due to ‘chilling effect’ on democracy
Christopher Knause – The Guardian – 24 July 2018
Spy and his lawyer should not be prosecuted for exposing ‘wrongful practices by the government’, advocates say.

Kangaroos and Crocodies: The Timor Sea Treaty of 2018
David Dixon – 11 July 2018

The dark politics of the Timor spy case
Mike Seccombe – The Saturday Paper – 7 July 2018

Dreyfus and Carr revealed bugging first — so why have K and Collaery been charged?
Bernard Keane – Crikey –  3 July, 2018
The involvement of the Labor Party somewhat explains its reluctance to stand up for the truth.

Media Watch Episode
Media Watch – ABC TV – 2 July 2018
“So it was a Watergate situation. They broke in and they bugged, in a total breach of sovereignty, the cabinet room, the ministerial offices of then prime minister (Mari) Alkitiri (sic) and his government. They placed clandestine listening devices in the ministerial conference room…” (The Australia, 29 May, 2013).

Federal prosecution of Witness K and his lawyer is a disgraceful act of revenge
David Dixon – Sydney Morning Herald – 1 July 2018
“Their real offence was not breaching secrecy, but embarrassing Australia and encouraging East Timor to push for the treaty on maritime boundaries which was signed earlier this year.”


June 2018

Collaery prosecution targets ABC but strangely misses News Corp
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 29 June, 2018
ABC journalists are mentioned regarding the charges, but not a NewsCorp journalist, who also interviewed Collaery. Why would that be?

Lawyer and witness face charges under spy laws raising questions of openness and accountability
Clinton Fernandes – The Conversation – 29 June 2018

Top lawyers jump to the defence of former Australian spy Witness K
Nick O’Malley – Sydney Morning Herald – 29 June 2018


March 2018

The Timor-Leste-Australia Maritime Boundary Treaty
La’o Hamutuk – 21 March 2018


December 2017

Keane: no politician has the spine to stand up to Australia’s intelligence state
Bernard Keane – Crikey – 21 December 2017
“For anyone foolish enough to seek employment within the dark recesses of the Australian security state, it is important to know that if ASIS undertakes an illegal, immoral activity that has a result of benefiting a corporation for which key officials will go on to work, they need to stay silent. Do not go to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. Do not approach a lawyer. Do not seek to defend your basic rights. Above all, do not tell the truth. Maintain the darkness within which this bureaucratic banality — and perhaps venality — of evil thrives.”

June 2015

National security, legal professional privilege, and the Bar Rules
Bernard Collaery – Address at the Australian National University –  11 June 2015

Australia to return East Timor documents ASIO seized during raid
Sam Everingham  – ABC News – 4 May 2015


December 2013

Australia accused of playing dirty in battle with East Timor over oil and gas reserves
Tom Allard – The Sydney Morning Herald – 28 December 2013
Spies undercover as aid workers ….Spies raiding spies ….The Timor Sea’s rich oil and gas deposits are at the heart of the latest espionage saga.

East Timor claims it know which Australian spies bugged its offices
Tom Allard – The Sydney Morning Herald – 9 December 2013

East Timorese stone Australian embassy
The Age – 6 December 2013

What really happened in the Timor deal
Editorial – The Age -5 December 2013

East Timor spying scandal: Tony Abbott defends ASIO raids on lawyer Bernard Collaery’s offices
ABC News – 4 December 2013

ASIO raids lawyer on eve of Hague spying case
National Affairs Editor – The Sydney Morning Herald – 4 December 2013

ASIO raids office of lawyer Bernard Collaery over East Timor spy claim
Tom Allard –The Sydney Morning Herald – 3 December 2013

November 2013

Timor-Leste spying claims: Australia has a history of bugging its neighbour
Paul Daley – The Guardian – 29 November 2013


May 2013

Aussie spies accused of bugging Timor cabinet
Leo Shanahan – The Australian – 29 May 2013