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AustraliaABC chair Ita Buttrose condemns AFP raid, vows to fight attempts to 'muzzle' broadcaster

04:36  07 june  2019
04:36  07 june  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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ABC chair Ita Buttrose blasts the AFP raid on Australia's national broadcaster , revealing she had a frank conversation with the Federal Communications Minister and would fight any attempts to muzzle the ABC .

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has "grave concern" about this week's Australian Federal Police ( AFP ) raid at the national broadcaster , which she says were "clearly designed to intimidate".

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has "grave concern" about this week's Australian Federal Police (AFP) raid at the national broadcaster, which she says were "clearly designed to intimidate".

AFP officers executed a search warrant at the ABC's Ultimo headquarters on Wednesday, over a series of 2017 stories known as the Afghan Files.

In a statement, Ms Buttrose said she had a "frank conversation" with Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher yesterday, and that the raid was "clearly designed to intimidate".

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Buttrose vows to fight any attempt to ‘ muzzle ’ the ABC and says she has had a frank conversation with the communications minister.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose blasts the AFP raid on Australia's national broadcaster , revealing she had a frank conversation with the Federal Communications Minister and would fight any attempts to muzzle the ABC .

The AFP also raided the Canberra home of a News Corp journalist on Tuesday — however that incident was not related to the ABC search warrant.

"It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week's events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policymakers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account," Ms Buttrose said.

"I also asked for assurances that the ABC not be subject to future raids of this sort.

"Mr Fletcher declined to provide such assurances, while noting the 'substantial concern' registered by the Corporation."

ABC chair Ita Buttrose condemns AFP raid, vows to fight attempts to 'muzzle' broadcaster © AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts ABC Chair Ita Buttrose. The Afghan Files stories, by ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and were based off hundreds of pages of secret Defence documents leaked to the ABC.

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ABC chair Ita Buttrose has "grave concern" about this week's Australian Federal Police ( AFP ) raid at the national broadcaster , which she says were "clearly designed to intimidate".

The ABC chair , Ita Buttrose , and ABC managing director, David Anderson, strongly condemned the raids on the public broadcaster earlier this month. ABC vows to continue reporting 'without fear' after police raid Sydney offices.

"As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public," Ms Buttrose said.

"Independence is not exercised by degrees. It is absolute."

Ms Buttrose, who is only the second woman to lead the ABC board, said an "untrammelled" media which upholds the community's right to information has driven her journalistic career for almost five decades.

"In my view, legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policymakers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security," she said.

Ms Buttrose called the search warrant, which named Oakes, Clark and the ABC's director of News Gaven Morris, as "sweeping".

After the raid, that lasted more than eight hours, the AFP officers took with them two USB drives containing a small number of electronic files, which were sealed in plastic bags pending a review by ABC lawyers.

The ABC has two weeks to challenge the terms of the warrant as well as claim privilege over the contents of the documents before the AFP can unseal that bag and, potentially, use the files as evidence.

Managing director David Anderson said ABC journalists' sources were safe.

Read more

Scott Morrison and Ita Buttrose expected to discuss AFP raids at meeting.
ABC Chair Ita Buttrose arrives at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney for a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with the pair expected to discuss a range of topics including last week's AFP raids on the ABC.

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