Australian Federal Police raid offices of national broadcaster

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.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, federal police raided their Ultimo offices around 11:30 am local time.

Video from Sydney Morning Herald Journalist Lucy Cormack shows the moment AFP officers arrived at the ABC center.

ABC reported that the raids were related to The Afghan Files, a series of 2017 government leaks published by the ABC. The leaked documents alleged that Australian special forces engaged in unlawful killings and gross misconduct in Afghanistan, including the killing of unarmed Afghan men in 2012 and the flying of a Nazi flag on an Australian army vehicle.

Executive Editor at the Head of Investigative Journalism John Lyons said on Twitter that AFP handed over a warrant naming two reporters and a news director linked to the publishing of The Afghan Files, including investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark.

Managing Director at the ABC, David Anderson, said in a statement that the raids raised “legitimate concerns over freedom of the press.”

“It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way,” Anderson continued. “This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and Defense matters.”

He added that the broadcaster “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.”

The AFP said in a statement that they executed a search warrant on the ABC headquarters in relation to “allegations of publishing classified material,” which would constitute a criminal offense.

“All AFP search warrants are authorized by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary,” the statement said. “This is the result of supporting documentation or material being presented to the court which provides sufficient suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed.”

The AFP also stated that “no arrests are planned today as a result of this activity,” and that the activity is not linked to a search warrant executed in Canberra on Tuesday local time.

The Tuesday warrant was for the home of Australian political journalist Annika Smethurst, over reports that the Australian government was considering new surveillance measures over its citizens.

In a statement, the AFP confirmed to Business Insider Australia that it had executed a search warrant on the home in Canberra in connection “to an investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of national security information.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the AFP’s raid of Smethurst’s home, saying that he was not “troubled” by government agencies upholding federal laws.

“Australia believes strongly in the freedom of the press and we have clear rules and protections for the freedom of the press,” he told journalists in London on Tuesday.

“There are also clear rules protecting Australia’s national security and everybody should operate in accordance with all of those laws passed by our parliament … It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld,” Morrison continued.

Business Insider contacted Australia’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for comment.

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