Australia media raids: Police don’t rule out prosecuting journalists

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Media captionCops arrived on the Sydney headquarters of Australia’s public broadcaster on Wednesday morning

Australian authorities say they haven’t determined whether or not they’ll prosecute journalists on the centre of controversial police raids.

Broadcasters and rights teams have condemned searches by police on the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) and a Information Corp reporter’s dwelling this week.

They’ve criticised the seizures of paperwork as assaults on press freedom.

Information experiences might have breached nationwide safety legal guidelines, the Australian Federal Police reiterated on Thursday.

What are the tales in query?

Police searched the ABC’s Sydney headquarters on Wednesday over a 2017 investigative sequence referred to as The Afghan Information.

In accordance with the broadcaster, the sequence “revealed allegations of illegal killings and misconduct by Australian particular forces in Afghanistan”.

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ABC Information

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The warrant allowed police to grab paperwork from the ABC

Tuesday’s search on the dwelling of newspaper journalist Annika Smethurst associated to her 2018 report a couple of authorities plan to spy on Australian residents.

What did police say on Thursday?

In a press briefing, performing Commissioner Neil Gaughan defended the searches. He mentioned that they had associated to tales the place “top-secret and secret” authorities info had been printed.

“No sector of the neighborhood ought to be resistant to any such exercise or proof assortment extra broadly,” he mentioned.

Outcry as Australian police raid broadcaster ABC

Requested whether or not police supposed to prosecute media representatives, he mentioned: “We’ve not decided.”

Nevertheless, the commissioner added that authorities would think about the “public curiosity” of the information experiences earlier than continuing with any case.

What’s been the backlash?

Rights teams and different information organisations, together with the BBC, have made protests over the police raids.

The main journalists’ union within the nation mentioned the 2 raids represented a “disturbing sample of assaults on Australian press freedom”. Different unions and civil liberties teams additionally condemned the actions.

The search of Ms Smethurst’s dwelling provoked anger from her employer Information Corp Australia. The multinational media company, owned by press mogul Rupert Murdoch, known as the raid “outrageous and heavy-handed” and “a harmful act of intimidation”.

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Annika Smethurst reported prime secret discussions about new surveillance powers

In an announcement on Wednesday, ABC Managing Director David Anderson mentioned the police raid “raises legit issues over freedom of the press”.

“The ABC stands by its journalists, will shield its sources and proceed to report with out worry or favour on nationwide safety and intelligence points when there’s a clear public curiosity.”

Had been the raids performed independently?

Each the police and Prime Minister Scott Morrison insist that they had been.

Mr Morrison mentioned the police investigation was being pursued “at full arm’s size from the federal government, not within the data of the federal government”.

Commissioner Gaughan reiterated on Thursday that police had acted independently, beneath legal guidelines granted to them by parliament.

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“Not the federal government nor any minister has directed the actions of those investigations,” Mr Gaughan mentioned.

He rejected assertions that police had been intimidating journalists or “conduct[ing] a marketing campaign towards the media.”

Australia launched new espionage offences final yr that human rights advocates say may very well be used to focus on journalists and whistleblowers.

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