News / Asia

Australia Accused of Bullying East Timor in Spy Case

FILE - Australian Prime Minister John Howard (R) and his East Timorese counterpart Mari Alkatiri sit together in Sydney as they await a signing ceremony for the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea, Jan. 12, 2006.
FILE - Australian Prime Minister John Howard (R) and his East Timorese counterpart Mari Alkatiri sit together in Sydney as they await a signing ceremony for the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea, Jan. 12, 2006.
Phil Mercer
East Timor has accused Australia of violating its sovereignty by spying on its impoverished Asian neighbor during negotiations for an oil and gas treaty in a battle over natural resources. The case is now being heard at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
 
East Timor alleges that spies were used to give Australia an unfair advantage during negotiations over oil and gas revenue a decade ago. The 2006 treaty divides the Greater Sunrise field between the two countries. In East Timor, there has been a feeling that the agreement unfairly benefits Australia at the expense of its poorer neighbor.
 
The East Timor government wants the accord scrapped. It has also demanded at the International Court of Justice at The Hague the return of documents and data connected to the case that were seized in raids by Australian agents on the Canberra home of a lawyer representing East Timor last year.
 
East Timor’s Ambassador to Britain, Joaquim da Fonseca, told the court the agents took important and privileged communications during the raid.
 
"In complete disregard and disrespect of our sovereignty Australian secret agents have seized papers relating to the arbitration proceedings as well as other important legal matters between Timor-Leste [East Timor] and Australia,” said da Fonseca in his testimony.
 
Australian authorities said the raid was necessary, and insisted that the lawyer, who is a former Australian spy, was about to give classified documents to a foreign power.
 
The Australian government has told the court in the Netherlands that the material would only be used to protect national security, and not for commercial gain.
 
Ben Saul, a professor of international law at the University of Sydney, said the case threatens to derail bilateral relations.
 
“The Timorese, of course, were pretty upset by allegations that Australia had bugged its negotiators during the oil and gas treaty negotiations some years ago, and, of course, that does paint Australia in a pretty dim light. I mean [East] Timor was a really poor, struggling country, Australia is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet and here we are trying to get an unfair advantage [in] negotiations that were really central to the economic future of Timor,” said Saul. 
 
Judgment in the case is not expected for several weeks. It comes as Australia’s relations with another near neighbor continue to deteriorate.
 
Canberra acknowledged earlier this month that its navy breached Indonesian territorial sovereignty as part of its controversial policy to stop boats carrying asylum seekers. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the incursions were “inadvertent,” and that the policy of towing asylum vessels away from Australian waters would continue. Indonesia’s foreign minister this week called the policy “unhelpful” to bilateral relations.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs