The Australian Federal Police Raid of the ABC Headquarters
In June 2019 the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Sydney Headquarters. The raid took place over eight hours and was in relation to the ABC's publication of the Afghan Files, a series of news stories published in 2017 sourced from leaked defence documents. These documents detailed incidents of Australian soldiers killing unarmed Afghani men and children.
An application by the ABC to the Federal Court of Australia revealed that the search warrant for the raid authorised the AFP to search for evidence to prove a suspicion that the ABC's investigative journalist, Dan Oakes, had allegedly committed offences including unlawfully obtaining military information and receiving stolen goods. Fellow Afghan Files journalist Sam Clark and the ABC's director of news, Gaven Morris, were also named.
The warrant for the raid authorised the AFP to both search for and record "fingerprints found at the premises" and to take samples from the ABC offices for "forensic purposes." Furthermore, it authorised the AFP to "add, copy, delete or alter other data … found in the course of a search". The AFP seized 100 files over the course of the raid.
Reports indicated that another Australian Federal agency was likely involved as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) revealed that the AFP refused to release certain documents as they related to "an agency which is exempt from the operations of the (FOI) Act." According to the ABC, these agencies include the Australian Signals Directorate, ASIS and ASIO.
The ABC's managing director, David Anderson, described the raid against the national broadcaster as "highly unusual":
"This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and Defence matters...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."
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