Australia drops charge against lawyer over spying claim
Australia's new government on Thursday dropped the 4-year-old prosecution of a lawyer over his alleged attempt to help East Timor prove that Australia had spied on the then-fledgling nation's government in 2004 during multibillion-dollar oil and gas negotiations.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus maintained the longstanding government stance of refusing to confirm or deny whether the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, a spy agency that operates out of Australian embassies, bugged government offices in the East Timorese capital Dili.
"Having had regard to our national security, our national interest and the administration of justice, today I have determined that this prosecution should end,” Dreyfus said.
"My decision was informed by our government's commitment to Australia's national security and our commitment to our relations with our neighbors. This is an exceptional case," Dreyfus added.
East Timor had lobbied for the charge to be dropped.
Australia's center-left Labor Party government had been reviewing Bernard Collaery's case since it came to power for the first time in nine years at May elections.