Australian police raid journalist’s home

On June 4, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst over a story she wrote in April 2018. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) have strongly condemned the raid calling it an outrageous attack on press freedom.

Annika Smethurst's home was raided by Australian police. Credit: News Corp

On Tuesday morning, Annika was about to leave for work, when AFP officers arrived at her home with a search warrant, granting them authority to access her home, computer and mobile phone. The raid was linked to story written by Annika in April 2018 on a top secret government proposal to give Australia's cyber spies unprecedented powers, including introducing new powers for electronic intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate.

Annika Smethurst is a well-respected journalist working as the political editor of News Corps the Sunday Herald Sun.

News Corp said that the raid was a dangerous act of intimidation and would have a chilling effect on public interest journalism.

MEAA media president Marcus Strom said: “Yet again, we have an example of a government aiming to punish those who have brought to light vital information. Australians are entitled to know what their governments do in their name. That clearly includes plans by government agencies to digitally spy on Australians by hacking into our emails, bank accounts and text messages.

“It is an outrage that more than a year after the story was reported in April 2018 but just days after the federal election result, the Federal Police are now raiding a journalist’s home in order to seize documents, computers and a mobile phone in order to track down the source,” Strom said.

The IFJ said: “The timing of this raid raises serious questions about the new Australian Government’s commitment to press freedom, with actions such as these only working to intimidate the media in Australia. Governments cannot simply use the terminology of national security in attempts to silence critical voices and intimidate the media and it’s reporting.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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