Australian Federal Police Raid Even More Journalists Over Leaked Documents

from the setting-fire-to-freedom dept

Australia got scary in a hurry.

One day after raiding the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst over the publication of leaked documents detailing the government’s domestic surveillance plans, the Australian Federal Police raided ABC News Australia over leaked documents detailing the killing of unarmed civilians by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

Somewhat surprisingly, the AFP did not prevent John Lyons, the executive editor of ABC News, from live-tweeting the entire raid. This resulted in an astounding stream of tweets (with photos!) showing the AFP was seeking a wealth of information from ABC offices, including notes, correspondence, reports, briefing documents, photographs, and anything else it could use to (presumably) find the source of the leaks.

The AFP claims the raid of the ABC offices has nothing to do with its raid of a journalist’s home the previous day. This is only true in the sense that two different sets of leaks were targeted. In the greater scheme of things, they are very definitely related, as is the investigation currently being pursued by the Department of Home Affairs targeting yet another journalist over a story about asylum seekers seeking to enter Australia by boat.

Journalists all over the world are shocked by the Australian government’s actions, which directly threaten press freedom in that country. The continuing expansion of its national security powers have reduced the rights of the country’s citizens. These powers are on full public display, being utilized in an incredibly damaging way.

The head of the Home Affairs office seems less than concerned about the destruction of rights and freedoms happening in the country he’s supposed to be protecting.

A later statement from the AFP said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was “not notified prior to the execution of the warrants”.

“The AFP’s actions have been independent and impartial at all times,” it said.

“When the AFP receives referrals it assesses them for criminality and does not make value judgements on the issue instead identifying whether there has been any contraventions of Commonwealth Law, and when [sic] evidence as to whether the offence has been committed or otherwise.”

This bit of bureaucracy speech isn’t nearly as alarming as the statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who characterized the no-longer-theoretical threat to journalism as solid policework.

Asked if the news troubled him, he said: “It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld.”

That’s how those up top feel about running leak investigations through the offices and houses of Australian journalists. There’s apparently nothing wrong with destroying a private sector instrument of government accountability in the name of national security.

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Comments on “Australian Federal Police Raid Even More Journalists Over Leaked Documents”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Do as we say, because we said so.

"There’s apparently nothing wrong with destroying a private sector instrument of government accountability in the name of national security."

Shouldn’t that be national insecurity? I mean, after all, they are more concerned about what their constituents know about their activities than they are about protecting the ideals created by their constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

the really frightening thing is that it is happening more and more and is happening in what are supposed to be ‘FREE’ countries that are supposed to be ‘DEMOCRACIES’! everywhere around the world, countries seem to be turning to dictatorial methods to keep everything done by those governments and their friends secret from the people but are then doing anything and everything to ensure the people either cannot find out anything about those stated above or, if anything is discovered, they are drastically penalised for letting everyone else know! the whole planet appears to be turning into a single, giant area run by the rich, the famous and the powerful, where any and all rights of the people are being completely removed! things dont bode well!

Morrison is showing his true colours says:

morrison is in a very dangerous place right now

Morrison won the last election a month ago and now is trying really hard to lose the next one in 3 years time. Don’t worry Morrison, our news owner, one of the richest men in the world Murdoch is going to wreck you for this you clown, and if you don’t believe me, ask Whitlam, the guy who said Murdoch is not powerful enough to lose him any election. Well guess what Murdoch did, he screwed over a sitting Prime Minister without waiting for an election at all. Yes, Murdoch is so powerful he can literally invent a crisis and dismiss an elected Prime Minister. So Morrison you should be quaking in your boots right now as Murdoch starts the process of killing your government in mere months you bully.

charliebrown (profile) says:

ABC Kept Reporting

This didn’t stop the ABC from reporting events like this. Like it didn’t stop Channel 7 a few years ago. What I find crazy is that the story that was leaked was reported on two years ago. Why did it take the AFP that long to do anything? Did the law have to get changed first?

As for whether or not the government interferes with the ABC as the independent but government funded broadcaster, that was the story covered in one of their current affairs show late last year. (60min)

Eldakka (profile) says:

Somewhat surprisingly, the AFP did not prevent John Lyons, the executive editor of ABC News, from live-tweeting the entire raid.

This isn’t surprising.

Unless an arrest warrant accompanies a search warrant, the only thing the police can do is prevent interference with the search itself. You are free to leave, to say go to work, or to contact your solicitor, or to contact anyone else. You are free to observe and record the actions of the police going about the search as long as you aren’t interfering – in the biased opinion of the police doing the searching that is. Therefore there is nothing they could do, legally, to prevent the live tweeting. It was just a matter of time before someone did this. So it’s more the form, live-tweeting, rather than the concept – reporting on what the police have done during a search. Most people who have a search warrant served on them probably don’t want to advertise the fact that they are in that situation, as they would want to hope to avoid the embarrassment. Being a news organisations offices, though, is a different matter. It makes it a big story for them.

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