Published: Thu, June 06, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Australian Police Raided the Office of Australia Broadcasting Corporation Over Leaked Documents

Australian Police Raided the Office of Australia Broadcasting Corporation Over Leaked Documents

A police raid on Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) has drawn fire from broadcasters and rights groups.

Condemnation have been pouring in after the Australian police raided the newsroom of the country's public broadcaster Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Sydney headquarters with search warrants naming two journalists and the news director.

Officers raided News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home on Tuesday, triggered by a story she wrote a year ago revealing the government's plans to dramatically expand the Australian Signals Directorate's spying on its own citizens, giving the agency power to secretly access bank records, text messages, and emails without an individual's knowledge.

The release said no arrests were expected as a result of the raid and that the raid was not related to that which occurred on the home of News Corp editor Annika Smethurst on June 4.

"To have a warrant executed on the headquarters of the national public broadcaster in this way, I can't state it enough, is an unwelcome development, it is really serious and we take it very, very seriously".

Smethurst's story relied on leaked documents.

Speaking on his radio show, 2GB journalist Ben Fordham said his thoughts were with Smethurst and claimed he had also been targeted related to a story on asylum seekers.

They are reportedly investigating the 2017 publication of "The Afghan Files", which exposed the killing of unarmed civilians by Australian troops, the desecration of corpses and other war crimes covered up by military command.

According to the ABC, the raid is over an investigative story into misconduct by Australian forces in Afghanistan.

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"Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop", Strom said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was reported as saying he believed in media freedom but that there were also clear rules about the use of classified information. Today's raid comes after a story was published almost two years ago.

The Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance union called the events a "disturbing attempt to intimidate legitimate news journalism that is in the public interest".

Sensitive documents were leaked to ABC reporters.

The BBC issued a statement on Wednesday evening, labelling the raid an "attack on press freedom which we at the BBC find deeply troubling".

In its statement, News Corp, Australia's biggest newspaper group, called the raid "a risky act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths".

Successive Labor and Coalition governments have expanded laws which abolish any whistleblower protections, even if leaks expose illegal actions.

"This warrant relates to the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia's national security", police said in a statement.

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