Press Release

Statement on Federal Court ruling from David Anderson, ABC Managing Director

Today’s ruling is further evidence of the urgent need for explicit protections for public interest journalism and for whistleblowers.

When the AFP executed its search warrant here at the ABC last June 5th, its raid was seen – internationally – for exactly what it was: an attempt to intimidate journalists for doing their jobs.

Not just the journalists named on the search warrant, but all journalists.

The ABC challenged the validity of the AFP’s search warrant and we’re disappointed by today’s ruling.  It’s a blow for public interest journalism and a blow for the Australian public’s right to know.  It’s a win for further secrecy and lack of accountability.

Read more: AFP warrants used to raid ABC valid, Federal Court rules

This ruling highlights the serious problem with Australia’s secrecy laws.  Australia has by far the most onerous secrecy laws of any comparable western democracy – the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand.

This is at odds with our expectation that we live in an open and transparent society.

We are not saying journalists should be above the law, we’re saying the public’s right to know should be a factor that is taken into account – and legitimate journalism should not be criminalised.

The stories that prompted this raid, the Afghan Files, reported allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

The accuracy of this reporting has never been challenged. No one has been able to demonstrate a direct threat to national security as a result of those stories.

Yet almost three years after those stories were published investigative journalists Sam Clark and Dan Oakes remain in limbo. They could be charged and prosecuted at any time for doing their jobs.

The ABC calls on the AFP to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency and drop its threat against our journalists.

David Anderson,
ABC Managing Director

Press release sourced from ABC Media Centre

Header Image: People entering and leaving the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Centre in Ultimo, Sydney. Credit: kokkai/iStock