Australian federal police officers are raiding the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst over an April, 2018 story accusing the government of radical new espionage powers allowing the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to monitor citizens for the first time, according to the Daily Telegraph (via the Herald Sun).
Ms Smethurst, the political editor for News Corp Sunday titles includingThe Sunday Telegraph, was at home preparing to leave for work this morning when several Australian Federal Police officers arrived with a warrant from an ACT magistrate giving them authority to search her home, computer and mobile phone.
Ms Smethurst complied with the warrant and is presently waiting for the raid to be completed. She has declined to answer questions apart from confirming her identity. -Herald Sun
Smethurst's article revealed that the emails, bank accounts and text messages of Australian citizens could be secretly accessed by government spies without a trace under the proposal, as long as the Defense and Home Affairs ministers approved the plan.
The raid comes three weeks after the federal election returned the Morrison government to power, leaving Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton at the helm.
Ms Smethurst’s original story included images of top-secret letters between the secretary of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, and his counterpart in Defence, Greg Moriarty, outlining a plan to potentially allow government hackers to “proactively disrupt and covertly remove” onshore cyber threats by “hacking into critical infrastructure.” -Herald Sun
Current Australian law prohibits the ASD from spying on citizens - a power left to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the country's domestic spy agency.
Smethhurt revealed that Dutton and former Defense Minister Marise Payne had reviewed the proposal, however it had not moved beyond that stage to be formally presented to the government.