Major ABC offices and studios in Australia are today facing heightened security and lockdowns, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, following the increasing backlash, uproar and now threats over former terrorist suspect Zaky Mallah‘s appearance on Monday night’s episode of Q&A.
An ABC spokesperson told SMH, “There have been a number of threatening phone calls,” in the past 24 hours, following Prime Minister Tony Abbott‘s public spat with the independent broadcaster, over Q&A’s decision to give Mallah air time on Monday, and rebroadcast the episode on Wednesday.
The security measures have been labelled as “precautionary” by the ABC spokesperson. According to a report filed by Buzzfeed, “more than 1000” phone call threats or complaints (vicious or otherwise) have been received by the ABC following the controversy – a number that you can go ahead and assume is inflated far beyond what your usual airing of Doc Martin and Miss Marple marathons on a Thursday evening would attract.
According to a leaked email regarding the ABC’s Sydney HQ in Ultimo, the office’s usual pedestrian and public access—often as a thoroughfare—has been suspended temporarily. Staff have also been advised to wear their ABC access passes in plain sight, and not allow any unauthorised person to “tailgate” through security gates. Staff have also been advised to “report suspicious behaviour”.
— Dan Smith (@0DanSmith) June 25, 2015
The heightened security measures at the ABC come a day after Tony Abbott’s controversial criticisms of the broadcaster – where the Prime Minister warned the public that “heads will roll” at the ABC following Monday’s misjudgment in granting Zaky Mallah air time.
Unsurprisingly, some ABC staff haven’t taken Abbott’s turn of phrase lightly.
I’ve spoken to staff members who are spooked by Tony Abbott’s “heads will roll” comment. One said, “(He’s) whipping everyone into a frenzy”
— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) June 25, 2015
Last night, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, easily the most stressed man in Australia today, delivered a passionate defence of the broadcaster against swelling government criticism, saying, “free speech principles mean giving platforms to those with whom we fundamentally disagree“.
Lead image via Getty.