Australian PM defends legality of police raids on media

Federal police have raided ABC offices in Sydney

The raid comes a day after the AFP searched the home, computer and mobile phone of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst over a story she wrote a year ago detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians.

The AFP haven't ruled out laying charges following its raid on the ABC raid, and its raid on the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst for a day earlier.

While ABC will always respect the ABC Act and Charter and legitimate matters of national security, Buttrose said public interest is best served by ABC doing its job, and that its journalists should not be treated as criminals for doing so.

In its statement, News Corp, Australia's biggest newspaper group, called the raid "a risky act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths".

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

The stories, by ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

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"We are basically discussing a procedure we can all agree on to make this process as painless as possible", ABC lawyer Michael Rippon said on the AFP raid.

In the span of three days, Australian police have targeted both news organizations and journalists in a crackdown on the leak of confidential information that many are calling an affront to the freedom of the press.

ABC managing director David Anderson says it is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided.

"The ABC stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest", he said.

ABC News director Gaven Morris defended the two journalists who were named along with him in the search warrant.

Concerns from business come after the AFP executed a search warrant on the Ultimo premises of the ABC on Wednesdayin relation to allegations the national broadcaster published classified material, contrary to Crimes Act of 1914.

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The raids have sparked outrage from journalists and watchdog groups.

A statement by the BBC Press team read, "This police raid against our partners at ABC is an attack on press freedom which we at the BBC find deeply troubling".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he's open to reviewing the legislation underpinning the AFP searches.

News Corp, controlled by media baron Rupert Murdoch, called the raid "outrageous and heavy-handed" and "a risky act of intimidation".

Police confirmed they had not notified Dutton in advance and said their actions were "independent and impartial at all times".

Shadow home affairs minister, the Labor party's Kristina Keneally, demanded an explanation for why the raids occurred. If you can not depend on the law to protect press freedoms, then journalists must take care to secure their communications, notes, drafts, data, documents and other materials.

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