ACT Supreme Court rejects Bernard Collaery’s request for government agency documents

The latest twist in the saga of the government’s lawsuit against Bernard Collaery saw the ACT Supreme Court deny his request for stacks of documents from a number of agencies, including the foreign spy group ASIS.

As part of his defense, Mr Collaery had planned to use the documents to challenge the legality of an alleged espionage operation in East Timor during oil and gas treaty negotiations.

Mr. Collaery faces five counts, including conspiring with the man nicknamed Witness K to leak the classified information and sharing that information with several other people.

Mr Collaery had issued four subpoenas to Australia’s overseas spy agency ASIS, the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet, the Office of National Intelligence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The requests requested a wide range of documents relating to the East Timor cabinet’s alleged wiretapping operation.

Mr Collaery argued he had the right to challenge the legality of the alleged operation, citing the legal limits on ASIS’s functions for Australia’s national security, external relations and national economic well-being .

Mr Collaery told the court he would be entitled to an acquittal if a jury was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the ASIS actions he allegedly disclosed were within the law.

But in his ruling, Judge David Mossop said it was not necessary for the government to prove legality beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prosecute Mr Collaery.

Trial date remains elusive as lawyers fight over release of documents

Details of the argument were not revealed until Judge Mossop delivered his judgment.

Most of the hearing was held behind closed doors, highlighting how little content or even context is available in the public domain.

And there’s still no sign of a trial date.

Lawyers in the case are still arguing over what secret information should be allowed to be considered.

And there is still no publication of a redacted decision of the appeals court, which Mr. Collaery won.

The dispute over this has gone to the High Court where it remains pending further rulings on the case.