ABC launches court challenge to raid warrant


The ABC has lodged an application in the Federal Court to set aside the warrant that authorised the Australian Federal Police raid on its Ultimo headquarters earlier this month.

The application also seeks the return of files seized during the raid.

In a statement, managing director David Anderson said it is important that Australians be advised of this action and of the ABC's determination to defend its journalists and the crucial work they do informing the public.

AFP officers raided ABC Ultimo on June 5th, in relation to a series of 2017 stories known as the Afghan Files, by ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark.

The stories revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and were based on hundreds of pages of secret Defence documents leaked to the ABC.

The search warrant named Oakes, Clark and the ABC's director of News Gaven Morris.

The ABC is asking the Federal Court for a declaration that the warrant was invalid on several technical grounds that underline the fundamental importance of investigative journalism and protection of confidential sources.

The application also challenges the constitutional validity of the warrant on the basis that it hinders our implied freedom of political communication.

The ABC is also seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the AFP accessing the material seized and to return it immediately. It is currently being held by the AFP in sealed envelopes.

A full hearing on the matter is not expected for several weeks. The ABC says the AFP has given an undertaking it won't access the files until the proceedings are determined.

Mr Anderson said the ABC will be using every avenue over the next few weeks to defend the actions of its journalists and to seek legislative changes that protect the media’s ability to report on matters of public interest.

"I will be speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday alongside my fellow media executives Michael Miller, Executive Chairman of News Corp Australasia, and Nine CEO Hugh Marks," Mr Anderson said.

"Collectively and individually, we are committed to working constructively with the Government to address weaknesses in the legal protections for journalists and whistle blowers and to push for meaningful, urgent reform."