Australian police raid newsroom, journalist's home

ABC has been given two weeks to assess its legal options.
ABC has been given two weeks to assess its legal options.

Australian police have conducted raids on journalists investigating alleged war crimes and espionage matters.

On Wednesday, Australian Federal Police (AFP) spent hours at ABC News' Sydney office, local media reported, leaving with USB sticks. They were reportedly after information relating to a documentary ABC released in 2017 which claimed Australian soldiers had committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

The files are password-protected, and the ABC has been given two weeks to assess its legal options before they'll be forced to unlock them, ABC reported.

And on Tuesday, a News Corp journalist's home was raided in relation to a story she wrote in 2018 about the Australian government's potential move to increase surveillance on its own citizens.

The AFP said it was investigating two separate alleged breaches of the Crimes Act, specifically that it's an offence for officials to disclose information they're not supposed to, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the raids, saying the Government had nothing to do with it. He was asked by reporters if Australia was "taking tips on media freedom from China", ABC reported.

"At the moment what we are dealing with are two separate investigations following a normal process and any suggestion these were done at, with the knowledge of, the instigation of Government ministers, is completely untrue. No one is above the law."

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he only found out about the raids after they had happened.

"The AFP have an important job to undertake and it is entirely appropriate they conduct their investigations independently and, in fact, it is their statutory obligation," Dutton said, according to the Guardian.

"I have had no involvement in the AFP's investigation into these matters."

Opposition leader, Labor's Anthony Albanese, said the raids were "outrageous".

"I would find it extraordinary if no one in the government knew anything about this."