Journalist challenges police raid warrant

 

JOURNALIST Annika Smethurst is asking the High Court to quash a warrant federal police used to raid her Canberra home and take data from her phone earlier this year.

In April 2018, Ms Smethurst published three stories in The Sunday Telegraph and online about a proposal to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australians without a warrant.

A day later, the matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation, with police raiding the journalist's home on June 4.

Ms Smethurst's lawyers are asking the court to rule on whether the warrant was invalid because it either misstated or did not precisely state the alleged offence, and whether it infringed the implied freedom of political communication.

Annika Smethurst at her Canberra home where police with a search warrant spent several hours inside rifling through her personal items. Picture: Gary Ramage
Annika Smethurst at her Canberra home where police with a search warrant spent several hours inside rifling through her personal items. Picture: Gary Ramage

The lawyers said in written submissions the warrant bears little relation to any offence under the Crimes Act.

The case will come before the High Court on Tuesday.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has intervened in the case arguing the journalists' lawyers have overstated what was required for the warrant.

"The identification of an offence in a search warrant is not required to 'state the offence in the precise terms of the statute'," his written submission argues.

Even if the material was seized unlawfully, Mr Porter argued police should be permitted to retain it so the question of its use can be determined in the event criminal proceedings are launched.


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