Australian police stormed a building belonging to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), as part of an ongoing investigation against stories from 2017 related to Australian forces involved in possible war crimes in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tried to downplay the matter, though this was actually the second day of such raids against the reporter involved, while insisting that his government is “committed to press freedom.” He sought to avoid responsibility, however, saying that probe was actually started before he became premier. He also pointed out that ABC is a state-run outlet.
The 2017 articles in question were specifically related to the use of “unlawful killings” by Australian special forces. The warrant demanded drafts of the stories, access to reporter emails, and handwritten notes. Over 100 pages of documents were taken, and two USB drives.
In 2017, ABC revealed a myriad of killings by Australian special forces, with attempts to cover them up by avoiding reporting the extent of their killings up the chain of command. The killings included young children, and were the subject of a secret military inquiry.
The special forces appeared to hope no one would find out about the killings at all by just not reporting them, but local villagers found the slain civilians and they reported them, leading to inquiries.
The leaked documents showed not only that the Australian forces killed civilians without reason, but that some routinely carried “drop weapons” to leave on the bodies of people they killed so they could chalk them up as legitimate battlefield kills.
Despite both Morrison and ABC avoiding making this a huge deal, other Australian media outlets were deeply critical, condemning it as a troubling move against freedom of the press and aiming to punish journalists for leaking things the government was trying to keep secret.