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Blick report into Balibo five

Monday, 3 June 2002 MIN 265/02

MEDIA RELEASE

Blick report into Balibo five

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Mr Bill Blick, has found no evidence that the Defence Signals Directorate handled intelligence material improperly at the time of the 1975 killing of five journalists at Balibo.

Former Minister for Defence John Moore asked Mr Blick in June 2000 to investigate allegations that intelligence information forewarning the Government of danger to the newsmen was withheld or destroyed.

Mr Blick found that the allegations were unsupported by documentary material or witness recollections.

He found the allegations appeared to be based on incomplete and garbled information.

While intelligence material relating to journalists in Timor existed, DSD did not have any intelligence material that could have alerted the Government to the possibility of harm to the newsmen.

Nor did it withhold any particular item of intelligence.

Mr Blick is an independent statutory officer with the full powers of a Royal Commission.

In conducting his investigation, Mr Blick had unfettered access to the Australian intelligence organisations, their archives and to current and former staff.

He has prepared a detailed report on his findings which covers operational matters, including sources of information and the capabilities of these organisations.

This information is highly classified and will not be released publicly as it could prejudice national security.

However - given the public interest in the matter - today I am releasing an unedited summary of the report.

This is now the third investigation in recent years into matters relating to the Balibo events.

The conclusions of all three are similar: intelligence material was passed rapidly to government and there was no holding back or suppression of data by the agencies tasked with providing such material.

This episode was a tragic one for the journalists involved and their families.

I am satisfied that Mr Blick has conducted a thorough and independent investigation and I accept his findings.

I hope that his conclusions can at last provide closure in relation to key aspects of the Balibo affair.

ENDS

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