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AustraliaAustralian Federal Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home over alleged national security leak

09:15  04 june  2019
09:15  04 june  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

Journalist's home raided over spying story

Journalist's home raided over spying story Officers from the Australian Federal Police have raided the home of a journalist over a story on proposed new powers for Australia's digital spy agency.

Australian Federal Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home over alleged national security leak© ABC News Annika Smethurst reported earlier this year that government agencies were considering spying on Australians.

Police have raided the Canberra home of a News Corp journalist after she reported that the Federal Government was considering spying on Australians.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the raid related to a story published in April last year in which Annika Smethurst reported that the Home Affairs and Defence departments were considering giving spy agencies greater surveillance powers.

"This raid demonstrates a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths," a News Corp spokesperson said.

Australian Federal Police raid ABC headquarters at Sydney's Ultimo

Australian Federal Police raid ABC headquarters at Sydney's Ultimo The raid on the Ultimo headquarters of the ABC comes a day after AFP officers searched the home of a News Corp journalist.

"The raid was outrageous and heavy-handed."

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed the raid took place earlier today amid an investigation into leaked information.

"The matter relates to an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information that was referred to the AFP," the AFP said in a statement.

"Police will allege the unauthorised disclosure of these specific documents undermines Australia's national security.

"No arrests are expected today as a result of this activity."

ASD collects and assesses foreign intelligence information before passing it on to Australia's domestic and foreign spy agencies.

The ASD does not collect information on Australian citizens, but some senior public servants want to change that.

Morrison opens door to security law review after controversial raids

Morrison opens door to security law review after controversial raids The Prime Minister says he is "absolutely committed to freedom of the press" and insists ministers were not behind the raids.

The story alleged new powers, if adopted, would go to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to secretly access bank records, emails and text messages without leaving a trace.

Smethurst's article included images of letters between the two departments as they discussed the proposals.

Raid happens a year after referral

The Defence Department referred the leak to the AFP on April 29, 2018, the same day News Corp published the story.

Then foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop at the time said she would not support the proposal if it had been brought to cabinet.

The ABC has contacted Smethurst for comment.

"What's gone on this morning sends clear and dangerous signals to journalists and newsrooms across Australia," the News Corp spokesperson said.

If you aren't worried about the ABC raids, here's why you should be

If you aren't worried about the ABC raids, here's why you should be The Australian public have been conditioned to reject the possibility that the police might sometimes use their powers for political ends.

"This will chill public-interest reporting."

Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery president David Crowe, from the Sydney Morning Herald and Age, was among the high-profile journalists to raise their concerns about the raid on Smethurst's home.

AFP chief insists raids on ABC and Annika Smethurst were not initiated by Federal Government

AFP chief insists raids on ABC and Annika Smethurst were not initiated by Federal Government The Australian Federal Police was not trying to intimidate journalists when it raided the ABC's Sydney headquarters and the Canberra home of a News Corp reporter, according to its top officer. AFP Acting Commissioner Neil Gaughan insisted officers undertook the raids of their own volition, and that they had not been initiated by the Federal Government. The raids on Annika Smethurst's home on Tuesday and the ABC on Wednesday have drawn criticism from rights groups, who say it is a clear attack on press freedom.

"This is a huge concern when [Annika Smethurst's] story was clearly in the public interest," he said on Twitter.

"Original story included images of letters outlining a plan to allow government hackers to 'proactively disrupt and covertly remove' cyber threats."

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the union that represents journalists, described the raid as an "outrageous attack on press freedom".

"It is an outrage that more than a year after the story was reported in April, 2018, but just days after the federal election result, the Federal Police are now raiding a journalist's home in order to seize documents, computers and a mobile phone in order to track down the source," MEAA media president Marcus Strom said.

Read more

Texts to politicians excluded from raids on journalist’s home.
Australian Federal Police excluded politicians from their hunt for information, during Tuesday's raid on a journalist's home. Text messages between News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and Labor's Richard Marles and Murray Watt were identified and then removed from the body of evidence. News Corp alleges a senior officer told a junior colleague; “we don’t want politicians”. Smethurst’s home was searched over a 2018 story detailing a government proposal to spy on Australians.

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