Australian Federal Police raided the home of News Corp political editor Annika Smethurst seeking to identify the source of a leak.
In April 2018 Smethurst revealed that the public servants within the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), which collects foreign intelligence, proposed giving the agency new powers that would allow it to spy on Australians. The ASD would be able to access bank records, emails and text messages under the plan.
That story was built on correspondence between the departments of Home Affairs and Defence, the latter of which referred the leak to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on the same day that the story was published.
Both departments also denied that there was any formal proposal in place.
On Tuesday 4 June 2019 five AFP officers raided Smethurst's home in Canberra seeking information that could lead them to identify the source. Two more AFP officers and lawyers from News Corp joined during the day.
The Guardian reported that the search warrant related to an investigation into the "alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret" and gave the police authority to search her home, computer and mobile phone.
Smethurst told The Australian that the officers were "polite but thorough ... they went through everything in my house. My Christmas decorations, my drawers, my oven, page by page of every cookbook I own."
She said that she had no warning that the raid was coming, and has not had any correspondence from the AFP about the investigation since the story was first published.
Her employer, News Corp Australia, said in a statement that the raid was "a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths".
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said that the raid was "an outrageous attack on press freedom ... another example of the heavy hand of government."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he supports press freedom, but that "it never troubles him that [Australia's] laws are being upheld". He said that he supports the powers that national security and police agencies are given by law.
On Monday 24 June News Corp Australasia announced that it would challenge the legal validity of the raid on Smethurst. The challenge will be on the basis of infringement on the implied constitutional right to political communication. Executive Chairman Michael Miller also called on the AFP to confirm that the journalist is not the target of further investigation.
Smethurst A 2018. Spying shock: shades of Big Brother as cyber-security vision comes to light. Daily Telegraph. 28 April 2018.
Belot H 2018. Security leak about spy agency referred to AFP, Labor raises concerns with Government. ABC News. 30 April 2018.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2019. Australian Federal Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home over alleged national security leak. ABC News. 4 June 2019.