Still shooting the messenger

September 27, 2008

Newspaper articles sometimes tell so much of the truth that they prompt raids by the Australian Federal Police.

This is what happened to Philip Dorling of the Canberra Times on September 23, after the publication of an article titled "Revealed: our spy targets", based on secret briefing documents prepared by the Defence Intelligence Organisation for defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon.

The day of the raids, Dorling told the Australian Online that officers searched "the ceiling, they've searched from one end of the house to the other. I would say the terms of the search warrant are very broad."

The raid, which lasted five hours, has reactivated calls for the protection of whistleblowers and "shield laws" for journalists, which would allow journalists to keep their confidential sources secret without committing a criminal offence.

Dorling said that the police raids on his home were a continuation by the Rudd government of policies used under Howard of using the police to deal with politically damaging leaks.

This raid "represents a continuation of the heavy-handed police tactics against journalists", Dorling said, according to the September 24 Canberra Times.

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