By the Expendable Project
Censorship is a strong word. Sometimes, allegations of censorship can be a matter of perception, or can be exaggerated by those aggrieved. Seldom is cast iron evidence of sustained censorship, by the media of a nation, available. However, in the case of the Schapelle Corby affair, in Australia, it is as conclusive as it is shocking.
Schapelle Corby was sentenced to 20 years in an Indonesian prison in 2005, when 4.2 kg of marijuana was found in her bag upon collection at Denpasar airport. Whilst the trial effectively disintegrated into a showcase for the judicial abuse of human rights, with Schapelle Corby’s pleas for the evidence to be tested and seized being refused, serious questions emerged regarding the conduct of her own government.
Ultimately, a whole raft of material surfaced, which proved, not only that she was entirely innocent, but that Australian ministers, and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), had wilfully withheld the vital primary evidence, had deprived her of the funds for an additional appeal, had managed public opinion to close the political aspects, and had embarked on a lengthy series of abusive and illegal acts against her.
As reported last week by Mathaba News, an entire cache of government documents (link) has been published on the Internet, which conclusively confirms the validity of these statements. It is an astonishing collection of official data, which self-pens utter contempt for a human life, and the flagrant disregard of the integrity of state.
Incredibly, the existence of this raw material has never been reported in Australia.
THE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS
Politically and socially, the lack of an adequately functional media presents a serious problem for Australia, in terms of the health of its democracy.
However, what does it mean in practical terms, in the context of the case itself, and Schapelle Corby’s harrowing situation? The following is a list of just some of the material facts, the emergence of which have been censored, and hidden from the public:
1. Schapelle Corby’s boogie-board bag was the only one not scanned at Sydney Airport: it was diverted past the scanner by baggage staff, who were known to have been engaging in other corrupt activity. Customs Minister Ellison withheld this life critical information, even when Schapelle Corby’s lawyer asked directly about scanning. [Transit Report]
2. This information was also hidden from Parliament, when direct questions were asked, and critically, it was withheld from the Bali court. John Howard, and his long term colleague, Head of Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd, Max Moore-Wilton, were also aware, but remained silent. [Transit Report]
3. The AFP never investigated the reason for this missing screening data, and AFP Commissioner Keelty, who was also informed, never commented upon it. Keelty was also aware, via Operation Mocha, that the same baggage handlers were simultaneously engaging in other drug related activities. [Transit Report]
4. Schapelle Corby checked her bags in underweight, but they were subsequently found to be 5kg overweight on the Qantas system (which would have carried an excess charge of $175). This clearly indicated the addition of a significant weight factor, after the bags left her hands. [Transit Report]
5. Again, neither Schapelle Corby, nor the Bali court, were ever provided with this critical information. [Supplementary Report]
6. Two weeks before the verdict, AFP Commissioner Keelty told the media that there was no evidence of airport drug syndicates using innocent passengers, when this was clearly, demonstrably, and utterly, false. The AFP had held the Kessing Reports for months, and it withheld a host of other vital support evidence, which proved the long term and systemic nature of such syndication at Sydney Airport. [Transit Report]
7. The AFP and DFAT demonstrably evaded and frustrated the forensic and DNA tests which Schapelle Corby begged for in court. [Mutual Evasion Report]
8. The AFP told Parliament that it couldn’t perform marijuana pollen tests, when it had the capacity to do so, and indeed, had originally offered to perform them for the INP. It also refused the services of a forensics expert, who had volunteered to perform them. [Mutual Evasion Report]
9. Ellison subsequently told a clearly false story about marijuana testing, in a written letter to a constituent. [Mutual Evasion Report]
10. DFAT did not invoke the MACMA treaty to obtain the sample of marijuana (for DNA testing) which Schapelle Corby begged for, when it could have done so within the provisions of the treaty itself. [Mutual Evasion Report]
11. The AFP and Qantas provided wholly contradictory stories about the missing CCTV footage, which Schapelle Corby pleaded for. No footage was ever provided, from any airport, despite over 800 cameras being in situ. [Transit Report]
12. Foreign Minister Downer, and Prime Minister Howard, publicly endorsed the original Bali trial, when they were well aware that a multitude of legal and human rights abuses had been committed throughout. [Bali Trial Report]
13. Ellison publicly endorsed the burning of the physical evidence, whilst Schapelle Corby pleaded desperately for it to be preserved and tested. [Mutual Evasion Report]
14. DFAT have, de facto, endorsed and suppressed the ongoing and documented abuses of a mentally ill Australian citizen for more than nine years. [Health Report]
15. ACLEI, when forced to examine the AFP’s role in the affair, was directly and demonstrably complicit with an AFP officer, in producing a report which was an utter embarrassment to all parties. A functionary, who was at the heart of the Howard regime when the AFP abuses occurred, was allowed to rubber stamp ACLEI’s complicit rubber stamp. [Whitewash Report]
16. The government pressed and forced an Australian QC, Mark Trowell, on to Schapelle Corby for her appeal. He then decimated the appeal by attacking her defence team to the media. When he subsequently admitted that he was working for the government, and not for Schapelle Corby, the government refused to comment. The precise role of Justice & Customs Minister Ellison in this affair, Trowell’s long term friend, has never been explained. [Insider Report]
17. Downer and Howard publicly described a standard flour hoax at the Indonesian embassy as a “murderous attack”, using a “biological agent”, when there was no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it wasn’t benign. Neither of them revealed that the note included with the flour didn’t refer to Schapelle Corby at all, and was written in Bahasa, when they promptly blamed it on her supporters [PowderGate Report]
18. Ellison did not alert any of the parties necessary to prevent the false, but support-wrecking, story from circulating around the world. Yet, he was informed of the benign nature of the flour, by email, at 6:35pm on the same day [PowderGate Report]
19. The government seized Schapelle Corby’s book royalties under proceeds of crime legislation, whilst she was still in legal process in Indonesia, sending a clear signal to Jakarta. It further brought the judiciary into disrepute, by illegally extending its jurisdiction outside Australian borders, and holding secret trials, at which Schapelle Corby was not even represented [Political Seizure Report]
20. The government thus denied her the funds for a further appeal, and for medication, despite full knowledge of the nature of the original trial, and of the vital primary evidence which had been wilfully withheld [Political Seizure Report]
21. Dozens of breaches of the Freedom of Information Act, with respect to requests made on behalf of Schapelle Corby, have been recorded. The AFP alone has spent in the region of $1 million in frustrating efforts to obtain further evidential information. [FOI Abuse Report]
22. The AFP suppressed a secret recording of two known criminals discussing the collection of marijuana from Sydney Airport on the same day that Schapelle Corby flew to Bali [Candidate Sources Report]
23. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has supported the government with respect to every complaint ever lodged relating to Schapelle Corby by members of the public. The same applies to the ACMA, the OAIC, and every other quango presented to the public as a ‘watchdog’. [Quango Report]
24. Serious media abuses, including direct criminal matters, such as phone hacking and illegal recording, were submitted to the Finkelstein media inquiry in 2011, but were excluded. Compelling evidence of political interference with respect to the ABC, and of subsequent editorial and reporting abuses, continues to be ignored. [Media Reports]
25. The Attorney-General refused to accept a formal Crime Report, including a 450 page evidential Addendum, which documented serious breaches of the law by politicians and the AFP [Crime Report].
It is also noteworthy that current events and developments continue to be censored. These include a formal submission to the UN in New York and Geneva, from citizens across 51 nations (submission PDF (link)), and a series of street protests in support of this submission, most notably by the leader of the 2007 Saffron revolution, U Gambira (link).
There is no room for any doubt at all. This is a scandal of enormous proportion, embracing criminal acts by former government ministers and the AFP, and the consequential abuses of the human rights of an innocent citizen. Yet, it is unreported by that nation’s media. Instead, the worst form of journalism has thrived, as smears and fabrications have abounded, and public sympathy for the victim has been sedated.
Previous misreporting, has in itself, created self-interest in perpetuating this situation indefinitely, as have direct media abuses of Schapelle Corby in Kerobokan prison itself, whilst she suffered a deteriorating mental illness. Australia’s closed media, with its limited plurality of ownership, has become a breeding ground for the sort of journalism which must make foreign scribes shudder.
When the truth is finally exposed to the Australian public, real closure of the Schapelle Corby affair cannot be achieved until those who are culpable for such shocking media activities are also called to account.
The Expendable Project downloadable dossier:
Further information on the role of the Australian media is available on the following page: