In a statement, ABC managing director David Anderson said the broadcaster has lodged an application with the Federal Court to “set aside” the warrants the AFP used to raid the ABC aimed at rooting out sources for an investigative report based on leaked Defence Force documents.
“The ABC is asking the Court for a declaration that the warrant was invalid on several technical grounds that underline the fundamental importance of investigative journalism and protection of confidential sources. We are also challenging the constitutional validity of the warrant on the basis that it hinders our implied freedom of political communication,” Mr Anderson said.
“The ABC is also seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the AFP accessing the material seized and to return it to us immediately. It is currently being held by the AFP in sealed envelopes.”
News Corp confirmed it was in the process of lodging its own proceedings after the AFP raided Ms Smethurst, who works as political editor at The Sunday Telegraph, Herald Sun and Sunday Mail, and went through her clothes, bathroom, handbags and books.
The raid on Ms Smethurst’s home was part of an investigation into her story, based on leaked documents, on a proposal to increase the powers of the Australian Signals Directorate.
“We will challenge the validity of the warrant used to conduct the Australian Federal Police raid on the Canberra home of journalist Annika Smethurst because we are determined to fight for journalism and for the public’s right to know,” News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said.
“We also invite the AFP to confirm that it is discontinuing its investigation into both Annika and News Corp.”
Mr Anderson said the ABC’s hearing is not expected to be heard until late July or early August.
“The AFP has given an undertaking not to access the files until our proceedings are determined. Because of the court proceedings, I cannot add much more,” he said.
“Rest assured, though, that the ABC will be using every avenue over the next few weeks to defend the actions of its journalists and to seek legislative changes that protect the media’s ability to report on matters of public interest.”
The AFP raids have sparked fierce criticism of the agency and the government in Australia and around the world. The AFP’s actions prompted attention on press freedom in Australia from across the globe, drawing coverage and criticism from outlets including CNN, BBC, Agence France -Presse and Al Jazeera.
Mr Anderson, Mr Miller and Nine chief executive Hugh Marks will make a rare joint appearance at the National Press Club on June 26 to talk over the range of concerns raised by the AFP raids, including the need for legislative change to better protect journalists and whistleblowers.
This story originally appeared in the AFR. Read the story here.
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