AFP asked journalists for fingerprints and was planning further raid on News Corp

The ongoing story of the Australian Federal Police raids on journalists and newsrooms has taken another turn with the ABC revealing Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, the journalists named in the warrant for the raids on the broadcaster’s Sydney newsroom, were approached by the AFP ahead of the raids and asked for finger and palm prints.

It was also revealed overnight that News Corp was informed by the AFP of a raid on its Sydney offices, planned for June 6, which never eventuated.

ABC journalist John Lyons, who live-tweeted the raids on the newsroom in June, revealed in a story published yesterday that both Oakes and Clark were written to by the AFP ahead of the raids with requests for their finger and palm prints.

An ABC spokesperson confirmed this information with Mumbrella, and advised that at this time the broadcaster has no other comment. According to Lyons’ story, the email said the AFP was “requesting your consent to a forensic procedure being the copying of your finger and palm prints”.

Oakes and Clark were named in the AFP raids after their 2017 story The Afghan Files which investigated the activities of Australian special forces soldiers between 2009 and 2013 in Afghanistan. It’s believed to be the first time journalists have been asked to provide fingerprints to the AFP.

Warren Brown cartoon for Daily Telegraph Edition 16/07/2019
Peter Dutton Fingerprints | Reproduced with permission

The raid on the ABC’s Sydney headquarters took place on June 5, the day after a raid on the home of News Corp political editor, Annika Smethurst. News Corp has said the AFP had given notice that it planned to raid the Sydney offices of the media company on June 6, but that the plan was abandoned, seemingly after the uproar over the two prior raids.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has denied he had oversight into the AFP raids prior to them occurring, but 2GB journalist Ben Fordham has claimed an officer from Dutton’s offices contacted him around the time of the raids to discuss his sources for a story on asylum seekers. Fordham declined to reveal his sources.

It was also revealed this month that the AFP approached Qantas to acquire travel details for journalist Oakes, which Qantas provided. A Qantas spokesperson said this was within usual procedure for Qantas.

“Like all airlines, Qantas receives numerous requests for information from law enforcement agencies and we comply with these requests in accordance with our legal obligations and privacy legislation,” said the spokesperson.

Media organisations from around the country, including News Corp, the ABC, and Nine, have spearheaded the Australia’s Right to Know Coalition of Media Companies which is calling for reforms to laws affecting press freedom. The Coalition has also requested an answer as to whether Smethurst, Oakes and Clark will be charged in regards to the raids, something which hasn’t yet been provided by the AFP, with acting commissioner Neil Gaughan saying the option is still open.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin

Meanwhile, AFP commissioner Andrew  Colvin has announced he will step down at the end of his current five-year term in October. In a statement, Colvin said he made the decision earlier this year, and that he believes it is the right one for the AFP.

“This has been by far the hardest decision of my 30 years as a police officer, but I believe this is the right decision for me, for my family, and for the AFP,” Colvin said.

“The AFP is a great organisation and we do incredibly important work every day to keep Australia safe. It is with enormous pride that I have led the AFP for the past five years, a time during which we have achieved incredible success against a range of crimes both at home, and abroad.


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