AFP raid on a journalist’s home after she wrote a story about secret plans to expand the government’s spying powers was invalid, High Court rules
- Australian Federal Police raided the apartment of a News Corp reporter in 2019
- Annika Smethurst revealed secret plans to expand government’s spying powers
- High Court on Wednesday found warrant used by AFP to raid home was invalid
The High Court has found a warrant used by the Australian Federal Police to raid a journalist’s home was invalid and ordered that it be quashed.
News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst had her Canberra apartment raided in 2019 over stories she wrote revealing secret plans to expand the government’s spying powers.
The full bench of the High Court on Wednesday unanimously found there was not enough precision in the drafting of the warrant.
However, only two judges ordered that material seized during the search be destroyed, meaning it could still be used by police.
News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst (pictured) had her Canberra apartment raided in 2019 over stories she wrote revealing secret plans to expand the government’s spying powers
The court did not consider whether the AFP raid infringed on implied freedom of political communication.
The AFP has been ordered to pay court costs.
Officers searched Ms Smethurst’s home and mobile phone over the 2018 publication of a leaked plan to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australians.
The story in question, published by the Sunday Telegraph, included images of letters between the heads of the Home Affairs and Defence departments.
Australia’s press freedom was under intense security when the AFP searched another media outlet just days later.
The ABC’s Sydney headquarters was raided over stories published in 2017 containing allegations Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan, based on leaked Defence papers.
The raids prompted the ‘Australia’s Right To Know’ campaign late last year, which called for freedom of information reform, whistleblower protections and public interest exemptions from national security laws.
Under the nation’s tightening national security laws it’s illegal for Commonwealth Government officers to leak documents or publish the information.
Australian Federal Police investigators leave the main entrance to the ABC building located at Ultimo in Sydney on June 5 2019