269 Cablegram to Canberra

Jakarta, 17 October 1975,2.35 p.m.

O.JA2483 RESTRICTED IMMEDIATE

Portuguese Timor: Missing TV Crews

Gerald Stone of Channel 9 in Sydney rang the Embassy this morning and spoke to Dan about the two TV crews apparently caught in the fighting yesterday 16 October at Balibo in Portuguese Timor between FRETILIN and APODETI/UDT forces. Stone said he understood that FRETILIN had retreated from Balibo and that if the Australian TV crews 'had not been killed' they may have sought refuge in a fortress at Balibo.

  1. Stone asked whether the Embassy had received any reports about the Australians. We said we had not. We told Stone we intended to make enquiries when we called this morning at the Foreign Ministry and 'at another place concerned with Portuguese Timor matters' (Tjan at Centre for Strategic and International Studies). Stone said he would call back at 1400 hours Jakarta time (1700 hours Sydney time).
  2. Accordingly Dan called on Akosah (Foreign Minist[ry]) and on Tjan. We asked that urgent enquiries be made. (Tjan in fact had already sent a cable to the border since we had alerted him by telephone.) Both made the point that any information could only be made available to the Indonesian authorities through APODETIIUDT since Balibo is in Portuguese Timor. We said we understood this completely.1
  3. We have just received your CH279714.2 We shall give the names to the Indonesian authorities as soon as possible.
  4. In case Stone is unable to contact us you may care to ring him and also advise Channel7 what we have done.3

[NAA: A 1838, 3038/13112/4, i]