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Australian Broadcasting Corporation Editorial Director Craig McMurtrie speaks to the media as Australian police raid the headquarters of public broadcaster in Sydney on June 5, 2019. (AFP/Peter Parks)

Police raid Australian Broadcasting Corporation headquarters, seize documents over Afghanistan reports

June 5, 2019 12:29 PM ET

New York, June 5, 2019 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns the Australian Federal Police raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation headquarters in Sydney today and called on authorities to immediately return any documents or other property seized. In a statement, police said the raid was related to an investigation into the publication of classified material, and was not related to yesterday's raid of Sunday Telegraph editor Annika Smethurst's home in Canberra.

"The raids on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation newsroom and the home of reporter Annika Smethurst are deeply troubling and directly threaten Australia's standing as a country that respects press freedom," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Because government abuse can be hidden or covered up through the assertion of national security, journalists must have the ability to report on such matters and protect their confidential sources. Democratic governments understand this, and provide journalists the legal protections they need to do their job."

The public broadcaster reported that the raid lasted more than eight hours and focused on its 2017 reporting on unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan, which were based on leaked documents.

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