The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) is calling for the prosecution of Mr Bernard Collaery to be dropped, amidst increasing public outrage both in Australia and overseas.
“As we have said from the day Mr Collaery was first charged, there is no public interest in this case proceeding,” said Mr Greg Barns, barrister and spokesperson for the ALA. “It is not too late for the government to drop the charges.
“There has been a chilling of freedom of speech in this country and it is very disturbing that these charges ever proceeded at all.
“The secrecy that surrounds the charges makes it impossible for Mr Collaery to defend himself properly and for the government to be held accountable.
“In a society which subscribes to the rule of law, the Collaery and Witness K prosecution sends a message that those who seek to uncover illegality in government agencies will find themselves facing a jail term.”
The ALA is concerned that the reach and scope of Australia’s security legislation has steadily increased since the early 2000s without corresponding increases in human rights protections.
“The Collaery and Witness K case bears out the concerns we have often expressed about the federal National Security and Information Act,” said Mr Barns.
“Transparency and accountability must always underpin our national security policy. The default position should always be transparency – only where there is a demonstrable need for concealment on national security grounds should secrecy be allowed.”
Mr Collaery is a member of the ALA. In 2018 the ALA awarded Mr Collaery its national Civil Justice Award for his body of work including his service to Timor-Leste.