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Australia's 'Watergate' outcry on spy case
Australian Associated Press - October 29, 2018
Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick has joined MPs Andrew Wilkie and Rebekha Sharkie in demanding all commonwealth charges against a man, known only as Witness K, and his lawyer Bernard Collaery to be dropped.
The pair are facing criminal charges of conspiring to communicate secret information after revealing Australia bugged East Timor's cabinet rooms in 2004.
Ms Sharkie, who on Sunday likened it to America's Watergate scandal, is hoping Labor will be willing to consider talking about the case to heap pressure on the government.
Senator Patrick is visiting Dili this week as part of a parliamentary delegation and says it is "sadly ironic" he would be in the East Timorese capital at the same time the case is due back in court.
"Witness K exposed the morally bankrupt nature of Australian policy towards our small and impoverished neighbour," Senator Patrick said. "It is a disgrace that the attorney-general authorised this highly political and internationally sensitive prosecution to proceed."
The matter was due back at ACT Magistrates Court on Monday, but has been delayed until at least Thursday. The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions told AAP a new date and time is yet-to-be confirmed for the hearing but would "most likely" be later this week.
Greens senator Nick McKim has been another vocal critic of the prosecution, joining in a rally outside court before a brief directions hearing on September 12.
They have all argued Attorney-General Christian Porter should step in and drop what they believed to be politically motivated charges against the pair. Mr Wilkie said Witness K was a "hero" who had shined a light on misconduct.
Mr Porter previously said the CDPP sought his permission to lay the charges and he gave consent after "very detailed, very thorough advice".
Witness K, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service agent, was a key witness for East Timor over allegations Dili's cabinet rooms were bugged during negotiations over a gas and oil treaty.