ABC raided by Australian Federal Police, but it ‘stands by’ its journalists

The ABC headquarters in Sydney have been targeted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) today, in relation to the 2017 reporting known as The Afghan Files.

It is the second raid this week, with the AFP also raiding the home of a News Corp editor in Canberra, in response to a 2018 hacking story.

According to reports from the ABC, the search warrant provided by the AFP names investigative journalists Dan Oakes, Sam Clark and ABC director of news Gaven Morris.

The ABC offices in Sydney have been raided by the AFP

Oakes and Clark wrote The Afghan Files stories in 2017 regarding alleged unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

ABC director David Anderson voiced concerns over how journalists can be expected to provide unbiased and important reporting in these conditions.

“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,” Anderson said.

“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.”

In a media release, the AFP stated that the raid had been carried out “in relation to allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914″.

The release said no arrests were expected as a result of the raid and that the raid was not related to that which occurred on the home of News Corp editor Annika Smethurst on June 4.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) media section president Marcus Strom has condemned today’s raid, saying this can’t become the ‘new normal’ for journalists and media outlets.

“A second day of raids by the Australian Federal Police sets a disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom. This is nothing short of an attack on the public’s right to know.

“Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop,” Strom said.

“These raids are about intimidating journalists and media organisations because of their truth-telling. They are about more than hunting down whistleblowers that reveal what governments are secretly doing in our name, but also preventing the media from shining a light on the actions of government,” he said.

Strom also drew a link between the raids and the recent federal election, and called on the government to name the people responsible for the raids.

“Yesterday’s raid was in response to a story published a year ago. Today’s raid comes after a story was published nearly two years ago. Suddenly, just days after a federal election, the Federal Police launches this attack on press freedom. It seems that when the truth embarrasses the government, the result is the Federal Police will come knocking at your door.”

Speaking on his radio show, 2GB journalist Ben Fordham said his thoughts were with Smethurst and claimed he had also been targeted related to a story on asylum seekers.

Fordham said he had been informed the enquiries could lead to an AFP criminal investigation.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.