Australia’s public broadcaster weighs legal action after police raid

The raid targeted ABC executives and journalists involved in a two-year-old investigative report on Australian special forces suspected of killing men and children in Afghanistan. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2019
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Australia’s public broadcaster weighs legal action after police raid

  • It is the second high-profile raid on journalists in 24 hours
  • Some 100 documents were seized by police in the raid

SYDNEY: Australia’s public broadcaster is considering legal action to demand the return of documents seized in a police raid, its chairwoman said Monday, ahead of a meeting with the prime minister over a crackdown on whistleblower leaks.
The Sydney headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was raided by federal police on Wednesday, the second high-profile raid on journalists in 24 hours.
It targeted executives and journalists involved in a two-year-old investigative report where the ABC obtained documents showing Australian special forces had killed innocent men and children in Afghanistan.
ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose said her organization had consulted with lawyers over what options they had, but had yet to brief anyone.
“At this point, we’re really assessing the allegations to see what actions can be taken and we want to make sure that we’re in the strongest available position to defend ourselves and also our journalists,” Buttrose told ABC radio.
The Australian newspaper reported Monday the public broadcaster had retained the services of top media barrister Matthew Collins.
Some 100 documents were seized by police in the raid and put onto two USBs that were placed into sealed bags, according to the head of the ABC’s investigations team John Lyons.
The ABC has two weeks to appeal the warrant or ask for individual documents to be returned. If there is no appeal or it is not successful, the police can then access those documents, Lyons said.
Buttrose said she would be meeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week to express her views about the raid. She said last week it was “clearly designed to intimidate.”
“I’m not going to tell the Prime Minister what to do. But I will tell him how we feel at the ABC and how I feel,” she said.
“I think all of the media organizations in Australia need to get together and pressure the government to review the laws and the rights and freedoms of the media.”
Police last week also raided a News Corp. journalist’s home in Canberra over a report detailing the authorities’ bid to gain powers to spy on Australian citizens communications at home.
Police said there was no link between the two raids, which related to stories involving sensitive and potentially classified materials and were embarrassing to the government and the security services in particular.


Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, leaves after a court granted him bail, in Srinagar, June 25, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Police arrest newspaper publisher in midnight raid in Indian Kashmir

  • Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence

SRINAGAR: Police arrested the publisher of one of the most widely read newspapers in Indian-controlled Kashmir in a midnight raid over a decades-old case, the police and his brother said on Tuesday, highlighting the difficulties facing media in the region.
Tension has run high in the Himalayan region since more than 40 Indian police were killed in a February suicide car bomb attack by a militant group based in Pakistan.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is at the heart of more than seven decades of hostility between nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan. Each claims it in full but rules only a part.
Ghulam Jeelani Qadri, 62, a journalist and the publisher of the Urdu-language newspaper Daily Afaaq, was arrested at his home in the region’s main city of Srinagar, half an hour before midnight on Monday.
“It is harassment,” his brother, Mohammad Morifat Qadri, told Reuters. “Why is a 1993 arrest warrant executed today? And why against him only?“
Qadri was released on bail after a court appearance on Tuesday.
The case dates from 1990, when Qadri was one of nine journalists to publish a statement by a militant group fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. An arrest warrant for Qadri was issued in 1993, but it was never served.
Qadri had visited the police station involved in the arrest multiple times since the warrant was issued, most recently in 2017 to apply for a passport, his brother added.
Asked why Qadri was arrested at night, Srinagar police chief Haseeb Mughal told Reuters, “Police were busy during the day.”
The Kashmir Union of Working Journalists condemned the arrest, saying it seemed to be aimed at muzzling the press.
“Qadri was attending the office on a daily basis and there was absolutely no need for carrying out a midnight raid at his residence,” it said in a statement.
Journalists in Kashmir find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Indian government and militant groups battling for independence.
Both sides are stepping up efforts to control the flow of information, with the situation at its worst in decades, dozens of journalists have told Reuters.
India is one of the world’s worst places to be a journalist, ranked 138th among 180 countries on the press freedom index of international monitor Reporters Without Borders, with conditions in Kashmir cited as a key reason.