CANBERRA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- A former Australian spy and star witness in East Timor's dispute with the Australian government over 30 billion U.S. dollars in oil and gas revenue is facing criminal prosecution, Australian media reported on Monday.
East Timor claims that, as Australia spied on its government while the two nations were negotiating a treaty governing the share of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea in 2004, the treaty should be annulled.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) sent a brief of evidence to prosecutors in February following a 14-month investigation into a former officer for Australia's foreign spy entity, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).
Confirming it was actively considering laying charges, a spokesperson for the Commonwealth director of public prosecutions described the case as "ongoing," a Fairfax Media report said on Monday.
A former ASIS spy, known as Witness K, led an operation where agents, posing as aid workers, infiltrated East Timor's government palace in Dili and placed listening devices inside wall cavities.
A lawyer for East Timor, Bernard Collaery, himself a former spy, argues the ASIS operation was illegal as largely benefited private commercial interests, rather than its mission to "protect and promote Australia's vital interests."
In 2013, Collaery's Canberra offices were raided by Australia's domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and material relating to the case was seized.
In addition, Witness K's passport was taken, preventing the ex- spy from traveling to The Hague in the Netherlands to testify as a witness for East Timor in their case against Australia.
"Any prosecution of Witness K will be a showdown between good and evil and justice will triumph so long as our courts are able to operate," Collaery told Fairfax Media said.
"We are facing an unprecedented attack on the rule of law and all that we have fought for over the years is now at stake."
Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis authorized the raids on "national security" grounds, pointing out it was a criminal offence to communicate "any information or matter" regarding ASIS.
Last month, Brandis abided by an International Court of Justice directive to return the seized documents to Collaery and East Timor's government.