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Australia: Press freedom anomalies

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Sunday Telegraph journalist Annika Smethurst wrote an article on plans to expand the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) that was printed in 2018. More than a year later Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers raided her home.

Nearly two years later, Australia’s High Court judges found unanimously that the AFP search warrant was invalid because it was not sufficiently precise in stating the offence to which it related.
The High Court ordered the AFP to pay the court costs of Ms Smethurst and her employer News Corp.

AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw said that further measures have been put in place since to ensure warrants were properly drafted.

The ruling does not, however, ensure that the data seized be destroyed or handed back. Journalists’ union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) issued a statement noting, “The result was also mixed, with a majority of High Court justices dismissing a request that seized materials be destroyed.” Smethhurst, the journalist at the centre of the storm, has said she is “disappointed” with this part of the decision.

News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller said, “The Federal Government must allow media organisations to contest warrants against journalists to avoid debacles like this one occurring again.”

See ABC media report here.

Press freedom anomalies – High Court rules journalist’s home raid invalid, but police can keep materials seized

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