UK embassy lied over fate of Timor journalists

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British diplomats in Jakarta and the Foreign Office lied about their knowledge of Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor and worked with the US and Australia to cover up details of atrocities committed by Jakarta's troops during the attack, declassified documents have revealed.

The duplicity led relatives of two British journalists killed by Indonesian troops in East Timor in the run-up to the invasion yesterday to intensify their demands for a judicial inquiry into their deaths. British officials knew well in advance that Jakarta was almost certain to attack the former Portuguese colony, and determined that it would be in London's best interests to let it proceed, the documents indicate. They also detail how the British embassy in Jakarta and the Foreign Office lied about their knowledge of atrocities, particularly the killing of three Australian and two British newsmen in a house in the town of Balibo shortly before the main invasion.

The documents include a top secret telegram from the embassy in October 1975, two months before the attack, assessing that an invasion was inevitable. It continues by saying: "The American ambassador said ... Timor was high on [secretary of state Henry] Kissinger's list of places where the US do not want to comment or get involved. I am sure we should continue to follow the American model."

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