Published: Fri, June 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

BBC condemns police raid on Australian partner broadcaster

BBC condemns police raid on Australian partner broadcaster

The pretence for the ABC raid was a 2016 report titled The Afghan Files, in which the national broadcaster exposed war crimes committed by Australian troops including the murder of innocent civilians in Afghanistan.

The Australian public broadcaster's managing director David Anderson said that country's federal police seized about 100 documents on two USBs during their raids. "They told me they had a warrant to search the property, once they realised I was home another two showed up".

Police questioning of journalists is not new, but raids on the two influential news organizations sparked warnings that national security was being used to justify curbs on whistleblowing and reporting that might embarrass the government. "That's inevitable. There are plenty of stories I can think of that the government might be targeting next". While the raid was not connected to the raid on Smethurst's home, it was investigating a similar thing (leaked documents, basically).

Outrage over the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raid at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) continues to mount as a question of national security versus freedom of the press playing out between journalists and law enforcement.

"The AFP have an important job to undertake and it is entirely appropriate they conduct their investigations independently and, in fact, it is their statutory obligation", he said.

So far, the AFP have retained more than 9,000 documents since the raids began.

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But Morrison on Wednesday tried to distance himself from the raids.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has tried his best to not speak too heavily on all of this, has said he's open to a review of the legislation that allows these sorts of AFP searches.

Smethurst said while she is a fairly hardened journalist who is not easily rattled, the raid on her home was a really "off-putting experience" - particularly the search of her technological devices.

Dreyfus said he may support that. Australia is a "world leader" in passing anti-terror and national security laws that threaten media freedom, he said.

"We call on the Australian government to make it clear that there will be no punitive action taken against the journalists and media organisations involved in these operations, and that no similar action will be taken without just cause in future".

"Australia adopted one of the toughest defamation laws in the world's liberal democracies in 2018, while its laws on terrorism and national security make covering these issues nearly impossible", RSF added.

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