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East Timor drops UN court case against Australia over documents seized from lawyer


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — East Timor has dropped litigation against its powerful neighbor Australia related to a spying scandal, the United Nations' highest court announced Friday.

The move came after Australia returned documents its agents seized from a lawyer working for the tiny former Indonesian island.

The International Court of Justice said that Australia and East Timor wrote to judges last month confirming that "Australia had returned the documents and data" seized in a December 2013 raid.

The raid followed claims by a former Australian spy that his country bugged the East Timorese government ahead of negotiations on the Timor Sea Treaty that carves up revenue from oil and gas under the sea between the two countries.

East Timor wants to renegotiate the treaty which is worth billions of dollars, arguing that it is invalid because of the alleged bugging.

In March last year, the world court banned Australia from using the documents.

In a letter to the court earlier this month, East Timor said the return of the documents and data amounted to "implicit recognition by Australia that its actions were in violation of Timor-Leste's sovereign rights."

Australia responded in a subsequent letter to the court that returning the material underscored the country's "commitment to the peaceful settlement of the dispute" and added that "no other implication should be drawn from Australia's actions."

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