Just 24 hours after raiding the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst over a story that revealed plans to extend the powers of the ASD, the Australian Federal Police has swarmed into the offices of the ABC over the 2017 ‘Afghan Files’ story.
The raid began at 11:30 am this story, with the AFP handing over a search warrant for ABC’s director of News Gaven Morris and investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark.
The story in question, published by the ABC as a seven-part series in 2017, revealed accusations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, including incidents of Australian troops killing unarmed men and children.
It was based on leaked defence documents.
ABC News executive editor John Lyons gave a blow-by-blow account of the raid on Twitter, claiming the AFP told the ABC it was interested in “certain things”.
AFP RAID LIVE: AFP starting to access hard drive. Head of AFP team says “this could take some time.” Pretty confronting scene; six AFP officers trying to get into the heart of the ABC’s computer system. Is this a free media?
— John Lyons (@TheLyonsDen) June 5, 2019
Lyons also said that when asked if the raid was in connection with yesterday’s raid, the “AFP say no”.
ABC managing director David Anderson issued the following statement on the raids: “It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way.
“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.”
As well as the raid on News Corp’s Annika Smethurst yesterday, it has also been revealed high-profile radio presenter Ben Fordham has been subject to unwanted attention.
Fordham told his listeners yesterday afternoon his producer was asked by the Department of Home Affairs to disclose a source used in a story about asylum seeker boats attempting to reach Australia.
“We were told Home Affairs would investigate the disclosure and they would like me to assist that investigation,” Fordham told listeners.
“In other words, we weren’t supposed to know it.”
Fordham explained the Department had told him it had initiated an “unauthorised disclosure investigation” which could lead to an AFP criminal investigation.
He added he would be “cleaning up the house just in case”.