Australia was involved in espionage operations in Chile during the seventies, in support of the United States CIA agency activities conspiring against the democratically elected government of Socialist Salvador Allende, ousted by the military 48 years ago.
The Australian Intelligence Secret Service set up a station in Santiago from 1971 to 1973 on the request of the CIA, according to documents released, and published by Washington based National Security Archive, NSA.
Fifty years later we are still finding hidden events of undercover and concerted efforts to destabilize the democratically elected government of president Salvador Allende, according to Peter Kornbluh from NSA.
The verdict for countries such as Australia and Brazil, which also intervened in Chile, depends on understanding this obscure past in its totality.
Allende elected by a coalition of left-wing parties under the umbrella of the Popular Union in 1970 was deposed on 11 September 1973 by the military under the command of General Augusto Pinochet. Surrounded in the presidential palace, Allende took his life with a gun, a gift from his friend and Cuban leader Fidel Castro who had spent months in Chile, expecting a left-wing victory in the 1971 Uruguayan elections.
According to NSA, the CIA requested help from the Australians, and in December 1970, the Australian foreign minister authorized a two men cell to open an office in Santiago, with equipment that arrived in 1971.
Operations lasted 18 months recruiting Chilean informants and sending intelligence reports directly to CIA HQ at Langley, Virginia.
But at the beginning of 1973 with a new Australian Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, ordered the end of the operation in Chile. The excuse was that if the active cell in Santiago reached the media it would be extremely difficult to explain or justify.
The station in Santiago was ended in July 1973, but a couple of Australians remained in Chile until after the 11 September coup.
Australia declassified documents following a freedom of information petition from a former intelligence analyst from the Australian army, but although the documents extended from 1970 to 1973, they were highly censored and with few revelations about events that politicians from both countries were aware of.