World Media

Editors in Chief concerned by police raid on ABC

Policemen outside the ABC building in Sydney yesterday. The broadcaster was raided over claims that it had published classified material

Press freedom in Australia is under attack.

The ABC was raided over 2017 stories on allegations Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan, based on leaked Defence papers. Police said the search related to the alleged publication of classified material.

The police operations come barely two weeks after Australia's conservative government won a May 18 election it was widely expected to lose.

"The AFP have an important job to undertake and it is entirely appropriate they conduct their investigations independently and, in fact, it is their statutory obligation", he said.

Australian Prime Minister said that his government was committed to protecting the press freedom but no one was 'above the law.' He told reporters, "These are matters that were being pursued by the AFP operationally, at complete arm's length from the Government, not with the knowledge of the Government, not at the instigation of government ministers".

Mr Dutton then accused Mr Albanese of attacking the federal police officers involved in the raids. He also declined to state whether he supported the expansion of surveillance authorities Smethurst exposed in her reporting. Australia is a "world leader" in passing anti-terror and national security laws that threaten media freedom, he said.

" I have said it's outrageous that (journalist) Annika Smethurst's house was raided by seven police for seven and a half hours".

Police questioning of journalists is not new, but raids on two influential news organizations sparked warnings that national security was being used to justify curbs on whistle-blowing and reporting that might embarrass the government.

The ABC's chair, Ita Buttrose, has said raids by the federal police on its headquarters were "designed to intimidate" and warned the government she would fight "any attempts to muzzle" the national broadcaster.

Police said that controversial Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was not notified about the raids beforehand, and that the issues had been referred by two unnamed agency heads. "Following the execution of each search warrant on June 4 and June 5 respectively, my office was informed that search warrants had been executed", he said.

"There will be more raids".

Ministry officials reportedly told him the information in the story was highly confidential, but Fordham said: "The chances of me revealing my sources is zero". United Kingdom broadcaster BBC issued a statement in solidarity with it's Australian counterpart, decrying it as an attach on press freedom and "deeply troubling".