Police raid the Canberra home of journalist Annika Smethurst

By Chris Pash | 4 June 2019

The Canberra home of Australian journalist Annika Smethurst, the politcial editor of the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, was today raided by police apparently looking for the source of a leak of confidential information.

Search warrants for Smethurst's home, mobile phone and computer were executed by the Australian Federal Police, which later confirmed an investigation into an alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information.

The raid, described by News Corp Australia as "outrageous and heavy-handed:", follows an article in April 2018 about a proposal to give security services the power to snoop on the emails, bank accounts and text messages of Australians.

News Corp news sites report the raid was connected to an article which included images of letters between Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo and Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty.

News Corp says the public's right to know information about government laws that could impact their lives is of fundamental importance to Australian society.

"This raid demonstrates a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths," a  spokesperson says.

"The raid was outrageous and heavy-handed.

"News Corp Australia has expressed the most serious concerns about the willingness of governments to undermine the Australian public's right to know about important decisions Governments are making that can and will impact ordinary Australian citizens.

"What's gone on this morning sends clear and dangerous signals to journalists and newsrooms across Australia. This will chill public interest reporting."

The MEAA, the union for journalsits, says the Police raid on a journalist’s home is an outrageous attack on press freedom that seeks to punish a journalist for reporting a legitimate news story clearly in the public interest.

"The raid is yet another example of the heavy hand of government seeking to: withhold important information from the public, harass and intimidate journalists who are reporting responsibly to the Australian community; and persecute and prosecute whistleblowers who reveal matters of concern, including exposing any information or activity that is against the public interestm," the MEAA says.

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