Federal Police raid the ABC over the Afghan Files stories

Saul Bowman
June 9, 2019

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Wednesday morning raided the Sydney offices of the country's national broadcaster over a series of leaked government documents published in 2017, which allege misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

ABC said the raid was a "serious development", raising concerns over press freedom.

In this image made from video, Australia's Federal Police, top, enter the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the national public broadcaster, during a raid on their offices in Sydney, Australia.

The AFP also raided the Canberra home of a News Corp journalist on Tuesday - however that incident was not related to the ABC search warrant.

Search warrants for Smethurst's home, mobile phone and computer were executed by the Australian Federal Police, which later confirmed an investigation into an alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information.

The whistleblower at the centre of the federal police raid at the ABC is committed to telling the truth despite facing life imprisonment. Publishing leaked documents will get your home raided by the feds in Australia.

"The raids this week highlight just how unsafe it is to expose government wrongdoing in Australia", said Emily Howie, a legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre.

ABC Executive Editor John Lyons said the search warrant demands access to reporters' handwritten notes, emails, story drafts, footage and passwords, among other things.

Police searched the home of a prominent Canberra journalist on Tuesday, hunting for information linked to a story she wrote past year on secret government plans to spy on Australian citizens.


"The ABC stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest", Anderson said.

Her employer News Corp Australia, which publishes several of the country's most-read newspapers, condemned the raid as "outrageous and heavy-handed".

The BBC contacted the home affairs ministry for comment.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the raid and told journalists the upholding of Australian laws "never troubles" him. A spokesperson would not confirm or deny the existence of the investigation.

The prime minister, who returned from an overseas trip on Friday night, expects she will express similar sentiments when they next meet.

Police initially said the raids were in relation to alleged crimes of leaking classified information, suggesting media that received any such information would not be affected.

The raids came barely two weeks after Australia's conservative government won a May 18 election it was widely expected to lose, and which nearly cost Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton his seat.

"Australia believes strongly in the freedom of the press and we have clear rules and protections for the freedom of the press", the leader told Australian the media from the United Kingdom, where he is taking part in the commemoration of the D-day landings in Normandy.

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