“Freedom of the Press” gives the media the independence and freedom of interviewing, editing and reporting, so that the media can report the truth, monitor the government and expose social injustice. However, Australian police on Wednesday (5th) searched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) headquarters in Sydney for disclosure of confidentiality. The police’s actions were allegedly directed against a series of ABC journalists’ reports in 2017, involving unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
The outside world questioned that the police conducted a search two years later to suppress the freedom of the press and criticized the authorities for handling unfair practices. How sensitive is the content of the report? Is there any problem with the local police?
Australian police high-profile media for the day after the search of a journalist’s residence on Tuesday (4th), Wednesday (5th) search warrant (5th) against ABC reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, and News Director Gaven Morris. ABC pointed out that the police’s actions were for three-person emails and the company’s data from April 2016 to July 2017.
The police revealed that on July 11, 2017, the authorities received a referral from the military’s timely Minister of Defense, accusing ABC of alleged disclosure of confidentiality. On the same day, ABC released a series of investigation reports entitled “The Afghan Files”, detailing the illegal killings and misconduct of Australian special forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of innocent men and children.
“Afghanistan Archives” uncovers the evils of the military
The series consists of seven stories, all based on hundreds of pages of DoD documents obtained by ABC. The documents are marked “Australian Eyes Only” and are believed to be confidential.
Most of the documents are about the Australian military’s more than a dozen reports of misconduct in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013, at least two of which are under investigation, involving illegal killings in September 2013.
Other documents refer to the problems of serving military personnel on the ground, including deep differences between the troops, values, deep-rooted “warrior culture”, “organizational culture”, and military officers turning a blind eye to bad behavior. The following is a summary of two of the reports:
“Illegal killing of unarmed Afghan people”
The report summarizes the summary of the 10 cases of suspected illegal killings and the results of the investigation from 2009 to 2013. Most of them were never made public, including: helicopter air strikes, man-made accidents, and unarmed civilians being shot.
In one of the cases, the special forces shot and killed civilian Azdi (Bismillah Azadi), and the 6-year-old son hidden under his bed was also shot dead. The military and the family only paid $1,500 to the family of the deceased.
The report was directed at an unlawful murder in the case of a military suspect suspected of killing him while he was alone with the arrested man. The military commander once again refused to investigate the weapons and clashes. The involved commander was internally investigated for allegedly obstructing the investigation; the death investigation of the detainee has not yet been publicly disclosed.
Police are questioned to suppress press freedom
The police stressed that Tuesday and Wednesday did not matter; ABC questioned the state broadcaster’s search, the situation is very unusual, and stressed that it will support its reporters, as well as protect the source of information, fearlessly report matters involving clear public interest.
The police search and handling methods in the past few days have caused a lot of controversies. The local journalists’ unions are uneasy about the normalization of the search media, fearing that the media will be heard and suppress the public’s right to know. On the other hand, the search warrant gives the police “add, copy, delete or change” information on the computer being searched, leaving many people worried that the police power is too large.
According to Australian law, it is illegal for government officials to disclose confidential or secret information. The police have the power to investigate leaks and search for media agencies; however, the law also protects journalists from having to disclose sources unless the court considers that the public interest in disclosing the source is greater than any adverse effect.
But the question is, since it is related to national security, why should we search the media organizations involved after two years? The Administration has not given any explanation in this regard.