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John Martinkus was born in Australia in 1969 and grew up in Melbourne. He studied international relations at Melbournes La Trobe university and finished in 1991. Following a period studying Russian Langauge in Moscow in 1993 and 1994 he visited East Timor and in late 1994 and began writing freelance storied about the conflict which he sold to papers in Australia and New Zealand. In 1997 he was one of only a few journalists who managed to interview the Falintil pro-independence guerrilas in the mountains of East Timor under occupation. This was at a time when the guerrila war against the occupying Indonesian military was still a hard fought conflict against massively superior forces. That commander he interviewed, David Alex, was ambushed and killed by the Indonesians less than six months later. Martinkus returned again in mid 1997 to report on his capture and death. He returned to East Timor in mid 1998 and remained there until after independence in mid 2000 after which he wrote his first book on the conflict. In that period in East Timor he worked for Associated Press, Australian Associated Press, Fairfax, The Bulletin and several international papers as well as writing A Dirty Little War on the conflict in East Timor (Random House 2001). The book was shortlisted for The New South Wales Premier Awards and Martinkus was nominated for A Walkley award for his AAP coverage of the violence in 1999. That was followed by several trips to West Papua and Papua New Guinea in 2002 resulting in the publication of Quarterly Essay 7 Paradise Betrayed; West Papua's struggle for Independence (Black Inc 2002) Five separate visits of up to two months at a time over a period of three years resulted in the book; Indonesia's Secret War in Aceh (Random House 2004) which provides an unprecedented and comprehensive account of the conflict in Aceh as the Indonesian military sougth to hide it from the outside world until they finally closed down reporting from the province with Martial law in mid 2003. In 2004 Martinkus spent February and March travelling in Iraq under American led occupation. That provided the material for; Travels in American Iraq (Black Inc 2004). Martinkus has spent three of the first six months of 2004 in Iraq freelancing and researching the book and in July preparing 2 reports for SBS Dateline.