The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have raided the ABC‘s Sydney offices, with the broadcaster reporting the search relates to stories published in 2017 based on top secret Australian Defence Force (ADF) documents discussing the alleged killing of unarmed Afghani men and children.
AFP officers entered the ABC’s Ultimo centre around 11am this morning. The Australian reports the raid is thought to have been sparked by articles from reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, who wrote that ADF was considering allegations of unlawful killings by elite Australian troops.
Oakes and Clark have both been named in AFP search warrants, along with Gaven Morris, the ABC’s director of news, analysis, and investigations.
The articles, called The Afghan Files, referred to leaked ADF information. From one of the pieces:
The documents, many marked AUSTEO — Australian Eyes Only — suggest a growing unease at the highest levels of Defence about the culture of Australia’s special forces as they prosecuted a bloody, secretive war against insurgents across a swathe of southern Afghanistan.
BREAKING Federal police are raiding the ABC’s Ultimo HQ over a series of stories known as The Afghan Files. Search warrants for Dan Oakes, Sam Clark and our news director Gaven Morris #auspol @abcnews @withMEAA pic.twitter.com/P183av5hEB— Jason Om ✊????✊????✊???? (@jason_om) June 5, 2019
In a statement, ABC Managing Director David Anderson called the raid a “serious development” which “raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and defence matters.
“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.”
The raid on the ABC’s headquarters comes a day after the home of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst was searched by the AFP in regards to her reporting on alleged discussions among Australia’s security apparatus about permitting a spy agency to infiltrate the data, bank accounts, and text messages of Australian citizens.
John Lyons, the current head of investigative journalism at the ABC, tweeted that AFP officials told the ABC today’s search is not related to the raid on Smethurst’s home, and that officers are investigating “certain things.”
AFP RAID: ABC lawyers ask whether there is any connection with raid on News Corp’s @annikasmethurst yesterday. AFP say no.— John Lyons (@TheLyonsDen) June 5, 2019
AFP RAID: The AFP tell us they are interested in “certain things.”— John Lyons (@TheLyonsDen) June 5, 2019
More to come.