Alarm bells closer to home
Richie Gun, The Saturday Paper

In a single week there have been two disturbing reports of governments jailing people for political reasons. Australian filmmaker James Ricketson got a six-year sentence simply because the Cambodian government doesn’t like dissent, then two Reuters journalists in Myanmar got seven years for revealing state secrets – the secrets being the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military against its Muslim minority. And it’s not long since Australian journalist Peter Greste (“Speaking for freedom”, September 8–14)served time for allegedly damaging Egyptian national security, despite a lack of evidence against him. But these are all “developing countries”. We don’t do that sort of thing. Or do we? In the near future the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will be demanding the conviction of a Commonwealth employee and his solicitor for an offence carrying a prison sentence. They are charged with revealing state secrets, the secret being an act of bastardry by the Australian government in bugging the office of the Timor-Leste government while they were negotiating the ownership of gas and oil fields in the Timor Sea in 2004. And the government is doing its best to keep this shameful act a secret: a trial in closed court, and a media blackout. We should thank Andrew Wilkie, MP, for his courageous speech in parliament, revealing that the Australian government is acting just like those of Egypt, Cambodia and Myanmar.

– Richie Gun, Brighton, SA