A police raid on Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) has drawn fire from broadcasters and rights groups.
Officers arrived at the public broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters with search warrants naming two reporters and the news director. The ABC has protested over the raid.
Police searched the home of a News Corp journalist on Tuesday, sparking alarm.
The BBC said it was “deeply troubling” for a broadcaster to be searched.
BBC statement on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) police raid: pic.twitter.com/aZpmgBH8cX
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) June 5, 2019
The leading journalists’ union in the country said the two raids represented a “disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom”. Other unions and human rights groups also condemned the actions.
In a statement ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the police raid “raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press”.
“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.”
ABC News director Gaven Morris defended the two journalists who were named along with him in the search warrant.
For the record,@DanielMOakes and @sclark_melbs are two of @abcnews’ finest journalists. Honest and committed to telling the truth in the Australian public’s interests. Just like @annikasmethurst. I’m proud of the difficult work they all do.
— Gaven Morris (@gavmorris) June 5, 2019
Why the searches?
The police action is related to articles about alleged misconduct by Australian forces in Afghanistan.
According to the ABC, Wednesday’s search is about the 2017 investigative series known as The Afghan Files which “revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan”.
The broadcaster said the series was “based off hundreds of pages of secret defence documents leaked to the ABC”.
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”.