Australian Broadcasting Corp. head concerned by police raid

Federal police have raided ABC offices in Sydney

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the ABC's Ultimo offices on Wednesday morning over a series of 2017 stories documenting unlawful killing by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The search of Annika Smethurst's home, purporting to her 2018 report about a government plan to spy on Australian citizens, was branded "outrageous and heavy-handed" and "a unsafe act of intimidation" by her employer, the multinational media company News Corp.

"It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way", said Managing Director David Anderson as the organization tried to win legal redress.

"We stand by Annika and we will not resile from our campaign to protect the public's right to know about important decisions governments are making that can and will impact ordinary Australian citizens", Michael Miller, News Corp Australasia executive chairman, said in a statement.

The raids on Smethurst were reportedly related to a 2018 article suggesting Australia's spy agency was looking to broaden its surveillance powers.

"All AFP search warrants are authorized by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary", the statement said.

Acting police commissioner Neil Gaughan defended the actions as independent and necessary, adding that more raids were possible.

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

"These were matters that had been referred to the federal police some time ago, last year, preceding even my time as coming to be prime minister", Morrison said.

The police action was also criticized by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australia's media union, which said that the raids "are about intimidating journalists and media organisations due to their truth-telling".

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Australian law forbids officials from disclosing secret information, and the police warrants in both raids were based on a law enacted in 1914.

Marcus Strom, president of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance trade union, said on his Twitter account the two raids were "just outrageous".

The BBC contacted the home affairs ministry for comment.

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 nearly five decades.

Dutton denied involvement in the police investigations and said his office was notified after the raids were carried out.

The prime minister, who returned from an overseas trip on Friday night, expects she will express similar sentiments when they next meet.

Shadow home affairs minister, the Labor party's Kristina Keneally, demanded an explanation for why the raids occurred.

ABC described the raid as a "serious development" relating to the freedom of the press.

"Australia believes strongly in the freedom of the press and we have clear rules and protections for the freedom of the press", the leader told Australian the media from the United Kingdom, where he is taking part in the commemoration of the D-day landings in Normandy.

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