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Australia slammed for raids before ICC snooping trial

East Timor Prime Minister brands Australia 'counter-productive and unco-operative'

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao branded Australia "counter-productive and unco-operative," after secret service agents raided the Canberra homes of a lawyer and a former spy.

Both men are involved in an International Criminal Court hearing into allegations that Australia bugged East Timor's cabinet before sensitive oil and gas negotiations.

East Timor will go before the permanent court of arbitration today to argue that the espionage destroyed the validity of a bilateral agreement struck with Australia in 2006 over sharing seabed oil and gas reserves worth billions of pounds.

Australian attorney general George Brandis confirmed that he had authorised search warrants targeting lawyer Bernard Collaery, who will represent East Timor in The Hague, and a former secret service officer.

Mr Brandis's office would not confirm reports that the former spy's passport had been confiscated, preventing him from giving evidence in The Hague.

Mr Gusmao called on his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott to "ensure the safety of our witness for a prompt, just and fair resolution of this important matter.

"Raiding the premises of a legal representative of Timor-Leste and taking such aggressive action against a key witness is unconscionable and unacceptable conduct," he said.

Mr Collaery said the case would proceed without the spy witness.

"This is an attempt to intimidate our witness and to prevent the evidence going forward.

"I can't think of anything more crass."

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