Wikileaks Reveals Super Injunction Blocking Reporting On Massive Australian Corruption Case Involving Leaders Of Malaysia, Indonesia & Vietnam
from the no-free-press-for-you dept
We've written about the problems of so-called super injunctions in the past (though mainly in the UK). This legal process not only keeps certain details under wraps concerning a lawsuit, but actually forbids the media from reporting on anything related to the case at all. Such a thing would be clear prior restraint and not allowed in the US, but apparently is considered legal in other parts of the world. However, Wikileaks has now revealed what appears to be a super injunction against reporting on a massive corruption case in Australia, involving the leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, along with people at Australia's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia:
The super-injunction invokes “national security” grounds to prevent reporting about the case, by anyone, in order to “prevent damage to Australia's international relations”. The court-issued gag order follows the secret 19 June 2014 indictment of seven senior executives from subsidiaries of Australia's central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The case concerns allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by agents of the RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries.
The suppression order lists 17 individuals, including "any current or former Prime Minister of Malaysia", “Truong Tan San, currently President of Vietnam", "Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (also known as SBY), currently President of Indonesia (since 2004)", "Megawati Sukarnoputri (also known as Mega), a former President of Indonesia (2001–2004) and current leader of the PDI-P political party" and 14 other senior officials and relatives from those countries, who specifically may not be named in connection with the corruption investigation.
The document also specifically bans the publication of the order itself as well as an affidavit affirmed last month by Australia's representative to ASEAN Gillian Bird, who has just been appointed as Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The gag order effectively blacks out the largest high-level corruption case in Australia and the region.
It's the reasoning given that's most troubling:
The purpose of these orders is to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings.
It's difficult to see how that's a legitimate reason to completely hide the entire case from public view, when it appears to cover a variety of important matters of which the public should be aware. If some people may be embarrassed about this, even as they're not subject to the charges in the proceedings, then they should easily be able to explain that fact. There are lots of lawsuits that will embarrass some people (even those not directly subject to the case). But we don't hide them when they deal with everyone else. The decision to do it here really smacks of the "high court" / "low court" distinction between the treatment those in power receive vs. what those not in power do.