SYDNEY, Australia — The Australian Federal Police raided the Sydney offices of Australia’s public broadcaster on Wednesday, apparently in connection with an article published in 2017 about Australian special forces being investigated over possible war crimes in Afghanistan.
The raid of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s offices came a day after the same agency searched the home, computer and cellphone of a journalist who reported on secret correspondence between government ministries over a plan to expand intelligence agencies’ surveillance powers. The police said the two raids were not related.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst (4/6/19) on Tuesday in relation to alleged leaked government documents and today, Wednesday 5/6/19), the AFP have raided the Sydney offices of the ABC for the same reason. The old Australian media have gone berserk saying they need to be protected and need the public’s help etc but a lot of people on social media aren’t buying the media’s complaining as they see them as doing nothing more than crying wolf.
The reality is the old media, who are meant to be the watchdog keeping governments to account, only have themselves to blame for failing to defend other journalists and whistleblowers. If you are a journalist and not in the old media club then you are dispensable as far as the likes of News Corp and the ABC etc are concerned. But it is worth noting what the former editor of the UK’s The Guardian newspaper Alan Rusbridger said recently in relation to Julian Assange:
A former military lawyer at the centre of police raids on the ABC, ran as a Liberal Party candidate at the 2003 NSW election while Scott Morrison was State Director.
David William McBride was arrested by AFP officers at Sydney Airport in September last year, charged with the theft of classified documents and three counts of breaching the Defence Act. Authorities allege he is the source of the leak of classified Defence documents that were the substance of an ABC report known as the “Afghan Files” in 2017.
“Assange is a problematic figure in many ways. But the attempt to lock him up under the Espionage Act is a deeply troubling move that should serve as a wake-up call to all journalists. You may not like Assange, but you’re next
.” (Click here to read more
The same thing is happening here in Australia. How do I know? Because over the last 2 years I have been jailed twice for 4 months for standing up for my journalistic rights, I have been raided by the police for no justifiable reason and I have had another harassing police visit again for no justifiable reason. The first jail sentence
was for breaching suppression orders in a defamation matter that to this day has still not been justified and the second jail sentence
was for what I said in court and also in part for breaching suppression orders that were also never justified and that were ultimately lifted.
So when the media start saying they are worried that journalists in Australia might start getting jailed they deliberately refuse to acknowledge that it is already happening and in my case, it was a media company, Seven West Media, who paid to have me charged with contempt of court for breaching suppression orders. What makes it worse is that a Nine Entertainment editor, SMH’s Lisa Daves, was a cheerleader for my jailing by writing an article arguing why I should be jailed
. As it turns out the old karma bus has caught up with Lisa Davies and she has been charged with criminal contempt for breaching suppression orders
in the George Pell matter.
My first jailing did get media coverage but my second jailing received almost no media coverage. Fortunately, social media did give the story of my second jailing, which was on my website a few hours after I was jailed, a big push on Facebook and to a lesser degree Twitter which I have no doubt helped with the sentence being reduced on appeal from 18 months with a non-parole period of 13 months to a fixed sentence of 4 months.
AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin – paid over $600,000 per year
Media fail to support whistleblowers
The old media’s failure to support whistleblowers like they should have has helped to contribute to the current situation where the government and police think they can get away with harassing the media and whistleblowers. A couple of examples are:
- ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle who was in court on Tuesday (4/6/19) is facing more than 160 years in jail which seems to have only been mentioned in some media briefly and other media not at all. (Click here to read more)
- Defence whistleblower David McBride who was in court last Thursday (30/5/19) and committed to stand trial for leaking documents to the media which was related to the ABC raid today. The police raid on the ABC today probably got 100 times more media coverage than his court case last Thursday. (Click here to read more)
- Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery who are facing criminal charges for shining a light on the bugging of Timor-Leste government buildings by Australia. They don’t seem to get anywhere near the media coverage they deserve. (Click here to read more)
- Have any of the Australian media supported Julian Assange and his situation as strongly as they could? No, they haven’t which to me means they are to some degree complicit in the problem they have now with the AFP harassing them.
If all the Australian media threw their full weight behind any of the named above, even just one of them, it would rattle the government like no tomorrow and they would change their tune fast in relation to how they support and deal with whistleblowers. The government and law enforcement bodies would also quickly change how they try and intimidate the media.
The AFP raid on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst:
The Australian federal police have raided the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst investigating the publication of a leaked plan to allow government spying on Australians.
On Tuesday police executed a warrant investigating the “alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret” which they said had the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.
The warrant from an ACT magistrate gave police authority to search the home, computer and mobile phone of the News Corp Sunday titles’ political editor.
(Click here to read more
Given that Annika Smethurst published her story in April 2018 why did the AFP wait 14 months to raid her house? It was obvious to many that it was 14 months since she published her story but only 3 weeks after the federal election so it seems that AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, who earns over $600,000 per year, didn’t want to upset his political bosses.
AFP raid on the ABC
The raid on the ABC today was about a story they ran in July 2017 called The Afghan Files
which had hundreds of pages of leaked defence documents about allegations of unlawful killings by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. The raid seems to be linked to the fact that the whistleblower, David McBride, was in court last Thursday (30/5/19)
defending charges relating to him leaking the defence documents. But David McBride has admitted leaking the defence papers so why raid the ABC? Maybe the raid was more about the AFP/government trying to intimidate whistleblowers and/or the media.
I was on the receiving end of a NSW police raid in June 2017 where they took my computers, charged me over an email I had sent to judges of the NSW Supreme Court but dropped the charges later because they were frivolous and vexatious. (Click here to read more
) I was also on the receiving end of a harassing police visit a couple of weeks ago by NSW police. (Click here to read more
) So, I know what it is like to be harassed by the police on behalf of corrupt government employees and be in a situation where you have to defend yourself as best you can. When the police or authorities harass any media in any way it needs to get widespread coverage by all media.
The ABC and News Corp etc have been happy to help cover-up abuses by government agencies trying to silence journalists when it has suited them by failing to report it as they should. They are now crying wolf saying they need the public’s help and support when the reality is if they had of being doing their jobs in the first place protecting all journalists from government intervention, threats and bullying then the ABC and News Corp would likely not be in the situation they are.