The top-secret trial, conviction, sentencing and jailing of a former military intelligence officer known as ‘Witness J’ has been described as “unusual” and “unprecedented,” with one of Australia’s national security watchdogs warning it “should never happen again,” ABC reports. Strict secrecy orders were applied to all aspects of the case, and his entire trial occurred behind closed doors, with details only coming to light when Witness J took action in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) courts to complain about his treatment and what he claimed was a breach of his human rights.
The Commonwealth was able to suppress the details of the case by using the National Security Information Act. Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) Grant Donaldson SC raised concerns with how the ACT Supreme Court had agreed to closed hearings in the case, without even hearing any formal submissions from the parties involved, describing that decision as “extremely unusual”. “When the executive government prosecutes crime, it is wielding some of the government’s most-immense power, and those proceedings should be seen and watched,” said Donaldson.