Australian Police Raid National Broadcaster Over Leaked Afghan War Crime Stories

Australian federal police officers raided the Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) over a series of 2017 reports known as The Afghan Files, which exposed crimes committed by special forces in Afghanistan based on hundreds of pages of leaked defense documents marked AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only). 

The AFP officers arriving at the ABC on Wednesday. CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY (via Sydney Morning Herald)

The incident marks Australia's second such move against journalists in just two days, after police raided the home of a News Corp editor over an April, 2018 Exposé on government spying. 

According to the police, the raid was "in relation to allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914," while the warrant names the authors of the report, Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, along with ABC news director Gaven Morris. 

"It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way," said ABC Managing Director David Anderson in a statement, adding: "This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and defense matters." 

During the raid, ABC staff members were rounded up and asked to assist in examining their email server to look for "a series of key words." Others searched a hard drive, according to ABC executive director John Lyons - who live-tweeted the raid. 

After four hours, authorities had collected more than 9,200 files and were deciding which ones were allowed to be seized under the warrant, according to RT

Marcus Strom, president of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance trade union, said over Twitter that the two raids in recent days were "just outrageous." 

"Police raiding journalists is becoming normalized. It has to stop," he added. .

The ABC raid was in relation to a series of broadcasts in 2017 about alleged misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan, the broadcaster said.

The raid on the News Corp editor related to a 2018 newspaper report that said Australian intelligence agencies wanted to carry out surveillance by accessing people's emails, bank accounts and text messages, domestic media reported.

News Corp called the raid on its employee "outrageous and heavy handed", and "a dangerous act of intimidation". -New York Times

 In a statement, New Corp said that it had "the most serious concerns about the willingness of governments to undermine the Australian public's right to know about important decisions governments are making."