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.


Egypt reported to have 4-6m fake news pages

An Egyptian carries a load of newspapers in Cairo, Egypt, in this file photo taken on Dec. 1, 2014. (AP)
Updated 16 June 2019
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Egypt reported to have 4-6m fake news pages

  • ‘The fake accounts ... are usually not owned by Egyptians, but by foreigners’

CAIRO: Egypt is reported to have 4 to 6 million fake news pages on social media accounts, according to Ali Hosni, undersecretary at of the General Directorate of Information and Relations at the Egyptian Interior Ministry.
The fake accounts, made to spread false information, are usually not owned by Egyptians, but by foreigners, he added.
Egypt has faced a flood of false rumors on an almost weekly basis, with claims such as that a newly appointed minister was in fact dead, or that of a girl kidnapped in the Beheira, who turned out to have runaway to avoid taking her exams.
According to a recent global survey, 86 percent of internet users have admitted that they have fallen for fake news online. The survey also showed that Egyptians were the most gullible in terms of fake news.

Prohibitory step
The government passed a law prohibiting fake news in an attempt to control the problem. The law, passed in July 2018, states that social media accounts with over 5,000 followers will be treated as media outlets, and their owners could be subjected to fines or prison for spreading fake news.
Responses to the law were skeptical, as people wondered what defined fake news, while others found the law to be vague. With the global survey’s results, it can be presumed that the 2018 fake news law did not have too much of an impact.
There have been multiple reports of social media accounts masquerading as officials and in Egypt turning out to be fake. One, the page for Education Minister Mahmoud Abo Nasr, had 80,000 Facebook followers on it — his genuine official page had only 55,000 followers.