Tuesday, June 04, 2019

No press freedom in Australia

Last year, Australian journalist Annika Smethurst broke the news that the government was plotting to allow the Australian Signals Directorate - their equivalent of the GCSB - to spy on Australian citizens and hack their computers. The plans were shelved as a result, but last month the Australian government was re-elected and took a sharp turn to the right. So today, they're raiding her house for exposing what they were doing:

Federal police officers are raiding the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst over a story about a secret government plan to spy on Australians.

Ms Smethurst, the political editor for News Corp Sunday titles including The Sunday Telegraph, was at home preparing to leave for work this morning when several Australian Federal Police officers arrived with a warrant from an ACT magistrate giving them authority to search her home, computer and mobile phone.

Ms Smethurst complied with the warrant and is presently waiting for the raid to be completed. She has declined to answer questions apart from confirming her identity.

This is highly disturbing. Smethurst's story was in the public interest, a basic part of the democratic business of holding the government to account. That's not something which should attract a police response in a democracy. In fact, the sorts of countries where it does attract a police response are tyrannies. Is Australia saying it is one of those now?