THE BERNARD COLLAERY SAGA
The federal government has dropped charges of leaking classified information against lawyer Bernard Collaery. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the decision was made to protect Australia's interests and relationships with close neighbours. Over the past four years there have been over 50 interlocutory hearings in the case and over a dozen judgments.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
2004: A spy in the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, known as Witness K, oversees bugging operations in Timor-Leste ordered by Australia in order to gain an advantage during negotiations over oil and gas reserves in the region.
2012: Timor-Leste's prime minister informs Australia the government knew about the spying operation and wanted to terminate the treaty.
2013: Timor-Leste appoints lawyer Bernard Collaery to represent the country in The Hague in a bid to get the treaty ripped up following the bugging revelations. ASIO carry out raids on Mr Collaery's office and the home of Witness K, who was expected to give evidence in the trial. Witness K's passport was also cancelled.
2018: Mr Collaery and Witness K are charged with unlawfully disclosing information about the ASIS mission in Timor-Leste.
2020: The Supreme Court rules in favour of the attorney-general's application for the Collaery trial to be held in secret.
2021: Witness K pleads guilty to conspiring to reveal classified information, but is spared jail time and handed a three-month suspended sentence and 12-month good behaviour bond. Mr Collaery indicates he will fight the charges, with the lawyer challenging the ruling to hold the trial in secret.
May 2022: The trial date for Mr Collaery is set down for October. Labor wins the federal election.
July 2022: New Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus orders charges against Mr Collaery to be dropped.
Australian Associated Press
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