High-profile lawyer Bernard Collaery says he can finally move on with his life after Attorney General Mark Dreyfus dropped the long-standing leaky charges against him.
Mr Collaery was charged with four years after he… in East Timor.
The classified information regarding: by Australian officials in 2004.
Five charges related to violating the Intelligence Services Act are now being dropped after Dreyfus announced his decision to end the prosecution, citing the need to protect Australia’s national interests, including relations with close neighbours.
Collaery called it a good day for the Australian justice system.
Bernard Collaery (left), accompanied by his partner, left the ACT Magistrates Court in November 2021. Mr Collaery was indicted for four years after he was accused of leaking classified information about an alleged Australian spy operation in East Timor Source: MONKEY † Lukas Cocho
“I am very pleased that the new Attorney General has looked into this prosecution and all that it entails and has taken steps to end the case,” he said.
“I would like to thank all the people across Australia who have supported me and worked so hard to assist me through this case.
“I am in awe of the deep support in our community for ethical values … I also want to thank those close to me who have given me inner strength.”
The prosecution of Mr Collaery began after Christian Porter became Attorney General in 2017 and ends with Mr Dreyfus exercising his own power to stop the case before the case goes to trial later this year.
“In making this decision, I have carefully considered our national security, our national interest and the proper administration of justice,” he said.
“This is an exceptional case – governments must protect secrets, and our government remains”
steadfast in our commitment to keeping Australians safe by keeping secrets out of the wrong hands.”
The news was greeted enthusiastically by senior lawyer Kieran Pender of the Human Rights Law Center, who said it was an important day for Australian democracy.
“Bernard Collaery should never have been prosecuted…whistleblowers should be protected, not punished – it’s that simple,” he said.
“From war crimes in Afghanistan to misogyny in Parliament House, there are many important stories that would never have been told without the courageous actions of those who spoke out.”
Attorney General Mark Dreyfus used his own power to stop the prosecution before the case went to trial later this year. Source: MONKEY † Mick Tsikas
Labor MP Alicia Payne, who previously called the prosecution “unjust” and “absurd”, was also enthusiastic about the outcome.
“This secret trial, carried out on behalf of all Australians, will now end under Labour,” she said on Twitter.
“Thank you to all the Canberrans who have tirelessly championed this – I’m proud to be standing next to you.”
Independent Senator David Pocock, a critic of the government’s prosecution, congratulated the Attorney General on the decision.
“This prosecution should never have happened in the first place…whistleblowers are a necessary safeguard and they need better protection,” he said on Twitter.
In June last year, the former spy who uncovered the wiretapping scandal, known only as Witness K, was given a three-month suspended sentence in the ACT Magistrates Court and a 12-month warrant of good conduct.
Witness K, allegedly acting under orders from then-ASIS head David Irvine, allegedly installed listening devices in East Timor’s cabinet room as Australia and its nascent democracy prepared to cut up lucrative resources.