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Timor Leste demands Australia return documents at court hearing

Published on Jan 20, 2014 7:51 PM
Timor Leste's Foreign Affairs minister Jose Luis Gutierrez (C) attends an audience of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, on January 20, 2014. Tiny, young Timor Leste has dragged Australia before the United Nations' top court this week to order its giant neighbour to return documents its intelligence services seized relating to a treaty signed by Dili in 2006. --PHOTO: AFP

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) -  Timor Leste demanded on Monday that Australia return seized documents relating to the two countries' negotiations over oil and gas reserves thought to be worth tens of billions of dollars.

The dispute brought before the United Nations' top court pits one of Asia's poorest countries against its wealthy giant neighbour, Australia, in a case involving spy agencies, bugging allegations, snatched documents and potentially huge rewards from developing oil and gas fields.

The hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, in a case brought by Timor Leste against Australia, concern seized documents allegedly showing how Australia may have used intelligence to outmanoeuvre Timor Leste in talks over the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields.

The two countries are in dispute over revenue-sharing as well as how best to develop the gas fields, located 150 km southeast of  Timor Leste and 450 km northwest of Darwin, Australia.

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