Police raids on media concern Far South Coast journalists


Above: Inside the AFP raid on the ABC yesterday. Image courtesy John Lyons

A number of Far South Coast journalists have expressed concerned about freedom of the press; the well-being of journalists and their sources in stories of public interest, following raids on two leading news organisations in Australia over the last two days. 

The Daily Telegraph and the ABC have both been subjected to separate raids, and a 2GB announcer, Ben Fordham, asked to reveal a source, regarding asylum seeker boats headed for Australia, which he has refused to do. 

The raids on the Sunday Daily Tele's political reporter Annike Smethurst's home in Canberra on Tuesday was in regard to a story she wrote about the Federal Government intending for the first time to spy on Australians, while the raid on the ABC headquarters at Ultimo in Sydney yesterday was in relation to a 2017 story that exposed alleged unlawful killing of civilians and misconduct by Australian forces in Afghanistan. 

Supreme Court proceedings begin in the ACT next week against the distinguished former military lawyer and captain in Britain's elite special air service who went to the ABC with his concerns. He is facing a lengthy prison term. 

The Herald Sun reports the man, David William McBride, is also a one-time Liberal candidate in NSW and the son of the late Sydney doctor, William McBride, who alerted the world to birth defects caused by thalidomide. 

Award-winning Australian author Richard Flanagan says the government has a history of covering up truth by criminalising truth-telling, for example when the government made it illegal for doctors and social workers working with refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru to report abuse against the refugees.

He's written in The Guardian that in March of this year police union leaders warned that the Australian Federal Police was losing “its independence and integrity and must be separated from Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs portfolio”.

The ABC head of news, Gaven Morris, has been under fire this week for pulling a story from going to air about the controversial Adani mine, however yesterday he said journalists would not be cowed by the Federal Government. 

Meanwhile well-known human rights lawyer, Bernard Collaery, and another man known as Witness K, are also facing court proceedings charged with communicating information about spying on the Timor-Leste government, by the Howard Government, during oil treaty negotiations. The proceedings before the ACT Magistrate Court have so far been held in closed court.