• Australia Is Undermining the Freedom of Its Press – Foreign Policy

    Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Neil Gaughan speaks to the media in Canberra on June 6.

    A raid on the national broadcaster is a sign of how the recently reelected conservative government intends to rule.

    In early June, a police raid on the headquarters of Australia’s national broadcaster shined an unexpected spotlight on the state of press freedom in the country. Seen from afar, Australia is one of the standout parliamentary democracies in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a vociferous promoter of democratic values abroad and not the kind of place where you’d imagine police striding into the offices of the national broadcaster with warrants to sift through the confidential emails of respected journalists. Yet this is exactly what unfolded.

    The raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) was a response to a seven-part series published in 2017 about alleged war crimes committed by Australia’s special operations forces in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2013. A high-quality investigative series, the ABC’s reporting was expansive and well-sourced. It married the firsthand testimony of a special operator who saw soldiers “acting in a manner that [had] no regard for the value of human life” with key findings from classified defense documents. Among other unsavory activities, the leaked documents catalogued limb amputations, prisoner executions, and the killing of children by Australian troops.