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Australian Police Raid Intelligence Officer’s Home: Seen Journalist Intimidation

After Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australian Federal Police (AFP) should avoid raiding or investigating journalists who were leaked confidential state secrets, the Canberra home of intelligence agent Cameron Gill was searched in what one media executive said was another attempt to intimidate reporter’s sources and whistleblowers.
Gill is attached to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD,) the government agency responsible for foreign signals intelligence, support to military operations, cyber warfare, and information security, and is the husband of Australian Ambassador to Iraq Joanne Loundes.
The raid on Gill came three months after the home of News Corp. journalist Annika Smethurst and Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Sydney headquarters were swept by police on consecutive days, sparking outrage and criticism.
Police were searching for the source of Smethurst’s 2018 report that Defense Department and Home Affairs Department bosses had canvassed giving the ASD new legal powers to spy on Australians, the Associated Press said.
It wasn’t said what the AFP was seeking at Gill’s house or if it was tied to the incursion into the home of Smethurst, also in the capital of Canberra, or if there were any suspicions he was a source for any stories.
News Corp. Australia Group Executive Campbell Reid said the incursion into Gill’s home and the raid on Smethurst were stepping up the assault on journalists. This comes despite Dutton saying he wanted the AFP to change its procedures to “take into account the importance of a free and open press in Australia’s democratic society” before executing search warrants, The Age reported at the time.
“We have always said the AFP raids on journalists were not intended to intimidate journalists but the people who have the courage to talk to journalists,” Reid said in a statement. “Today we are seeing that process of intimidation continue.”
While the other raids were aimed at a journalist and the country’s national broadcaster, drawing continued fury against the government and police, going after Gill elevated the siege against journalists and media organizations for reporting on the citizen spying plan and reports Australian troops killed unarmed men and children in Afghanistan in potential war crimes.
News Corp. and the ABC launched legal challenges to the warrants executed in June that the AFP used to seize records at the station looking for sources of classified information that led to the bombshell story.
Australian media and journalist groups have denounced the raids, demanding exemptions from national security laws passed over the past seven years that would otherwise see them “put in jail” for their reports if it’s tied to government secrets.
After criticism, the government asked a parliamentary committee to hold an inquiry into the impact of Australian law enforcement and intelligence powers on press freedom.
Dutton’s directive applies to investigations where police may be trying to prosecute government staffers who have leaked secret information. Distributing classified information can be a crime, as can receiving and publishing it can.

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