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

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.


US Senator Cruz: Twitter’s failure to delete Iranian officials’ accounts could violate sanctions

Updated 29 May 2020

US Senator Cruz: Twitter’s failure to delete Iranian officials’ accounts could violate sanctions

  • Cruz urged Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to open an investigation into Twitter “for possible criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)”

LONDON: US Senator Ted Cruz called for a criminal investigation of Twitter on Friday over allegations the company is violating US sanctions against Iran by not banning officials from the site.

Cruz urged Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to open an investigation into Twitter “for possible criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA),” he wrote in a letter sent to the the US Justice and Treasury departments.

In the letter, Cruz explained that he had informed Twitter of their violation of the IEEPA through two specific and active Twitter accounts belonging to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“To this day, Twitter continues to provide services to these covered individuals, and, in an April 3, 2020 response letter, attempted to justify this decision with two untenable arguments,” he wrote.

“In early April, Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information. They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined. In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant,” he added.

“The Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice should investigate what appears to be Twitter’s blatant and wilful violation of IEEPA and E.O. 13876 by providing services to Khamenei, Zarif, and other designated Iranian entities, and, to the extent appropriate, enforce any violation through sanctions and by seeking civil and criminal penalties.”