Outcry after police raid Australia’s public broadcaster | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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The Australian Federal Police’s raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and a News Corp journalist’s home has caused condemnation around the world.

ABC Scree Australia 18Dec2018Police searched the ABC’s Sydney headquarters on 5 June on a warrant naming two of the broadcaster’s reporters and its news director Gaven Morris. It followed a raid on the home of Sunday Telegraph politics editor Annika Smethurst in Canberra on 4 June.

Media organisations in Australia criticised the move, while in the UK the BBC said the “police raid against our partners at ABC is an attack on press freedom”, and “deeply troubling”.

“At a time when the media is becoming less free across the world, it is highly worrying if a public broadcaster is being targeted for doing its job of reporting in the public interest,” added a statement from the BBC.

The leading journalists' union in the country said the two raids represented a "disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom".

Gaven Morris defended the two journalists who were named alongside him in the search warrant. He said they were “honest and committed to telling the truth in the Australian public’s interests”.

Insiders executive producer Samuel Clark and investigative reporter Daniel Oakes, who produced a seven-part report in July 2017 called The Afghan Files, are the two named reporters.Their documentary  was based on hundreds of pages of secret defence force documents that were leaked to the ABC.

The papers revealed details about Australia’s elite special forces in Afghanistan and alleged that Australian troops have performed unlawful killings during their operations. The ABC report said the documents suggested “a growing unease at the highest level of Defence about the culture of Australia’s special forces”.

The Australian Federal Police said the warrant was in relation to "allegations of publishing classified material" and that it "relates to a referral received on 11 July 2017 from the Chief of the Defence Force and the then-Acting Secretary for Defence”.

ABC managing director David Anderson has said the “highly unusual” raid raised 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,” he said.

The search of Annika Smethurst’s home, purporting to her 2018 report about a government plan to spy on Australian citizens, was branded "outrageous and heavy-handed" and "a dangerous act of intimidation” by her employer, the multinational media company News Corp.

Non governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders, Tweeted: ”The scene might be expected in an authoritarian country but not in a democracy”. Indeed, Peter Greste , director of the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom and a former Al Jazeera reporter, suggested his jailing by the Egyptian government in 2013   on national security charges is "on the same spectrum".