The home of a former government official has been raided by Australian Federal Police. Picture: Network 10
The home of a former government official has been raided by Australian Federal Police. Picture: Network 10

Government staffer in AFP raid revealed

The Australian Federal Police have raided the home of a government official in Canberra.

It comes as the AFP remains under fire over controversial raids on the home of a News Corp journalist and the ABC's Sydney headquarters in June.

News Corp has confirmed with neighbours the AFP raided the home of Cameron Gill, a former senior advisor in Defence, early this morning in the Canberra suburb of Griffith.

The AFP confirmed police were conducting the search at the Canberra home but said it did not relate to “any current or impending threat to the Australian community”. Picture: Gary Ramage
The AFP confirmed police were conducting the search at the Canberra home but said it did not relate to “any current or impending threat to the Australian community”. Picture: Gary Ramage

Three police cars arrived after advising Mr Gill's lawyer that a raid would be taking place.

Four officers wearing forensic gloves left with evidence shortly after 9.30 leaving two other unmarked cars and several officers inside the home.

Five more officers left about 2.30pm and another car load shortly after that.

The officers declined to speak as they left, some carrying evidence.

Mr Gill's lawyer Kamy Saeedi came out front of the home, but declined to formally comment.

"It's a very complex situation at the moment, there is a lot going on... it's sensitive and I cannot comment," he said, declining to name his client or what he witnessed during the raid. His office began receiving calls about the matter around 7am.

 

The Australian Federal Police carried out a raid on a property in Griffith in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage
The Australian Federal Police carried out a raid on a property in Griffith in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage

The officers arrived with a warrant and a typed four-point checklist of forensic digital "procedures" for "AFP procedures for examination of items moved under the Crimes Act", including electronic stored devices and hard copy.

A lawyer at the home declined to formally comment. Picture Gary Ramage
A lawyer at the home declined to formally comment. Picture Gary Ramage

A spokeswoman for the AFP confirmed police were conducting the search but said it did not relate to "any current or impending threat to the Australian community".

"The search warrant activity is in relation to a Commonwealth official," she said.

"As this is an ongoing matter, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

Network 10 reports the individual is a former senior media adviser within the government.

Officers reportedly left the home with a number of bags of evidence this morning.

 

UNCLEAR IF AFP RAID IS CONNECTED TO EARLIER ACTION

It's unclear if this raid is connected to the earlier raids on the ABC and News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.

The AFP has refused to name the Commonwealth official being investigated at this stage.

The AFP's raids on media in June have sparked a number of parliamentary inquiries into press freedoms and calls for stronger protections for journalists and whistleblowers.

Officers from the AFP raided the ABC head office in Sydney over a story about special forces operations in Afghanistan in early June.

It is not known whether the raid is connected to earlier raids on the ABC and News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. Picture Gary Ramage
It is not known whether the raid is connected to earlier raids on the ABC and News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. Picture Gary Ramage

The ABC story by Dan Oakes and Sam Clark ran on July 10, 2017 and covered the controversial severing of dead Taliban fighter's hands in Afghanistan.

The story said it was based on secret defence documents and caused a bitter rift within the Australian Defence Force.

Just one day earlier, the nation's top cops descended on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's Canberra home.

The raid was conducted over a story she wrote, published in April 2018, that said the Defence and Home Affairs ministries were discussing radical new espionage powers that would see Australia's cyber spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate, monitor Australian citizens for the first time.

 

AFP MEDIA RAIDS DESIGNED TO 'PUT TERROR INTO WHISTLEBLOWERS'

Following the raids on journalists, Canberra's increasing culture of secrecy was called out at a press freedom summit in Sydney last week.

News Corp Group Executive Campbell Reid slammed the government for only appearing to believe in freedom of speech "when it's an away game".

Responding to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments this morning in support of the writer Yang Hengjun, who has been detained on espionage charges, Mr Reid asked: "Why is press freedom important to our Prime Minister in China, and not important in Australia?"

The summit was convened by the Alliance for Journalists' Freedom (AJF) partly in response to the Australian Federal Police raids on ABC offices and the home of News Corp political reporter Annika Smethurst in June, with ABC Chair Ita Buttrose noting that the raids had the surprising effect of bringing the national broadcaster and News Corp together.

Brought together by the AFP raids. ABC Chair Ita Buttrose shakes hands with News Corp’s Campbell Reid as moderator Geraldine Doogue looks on. Picture: Britta Campion/The Australian
Brought together by the AFP raids. ABC Chair Ita Buttrose shakes hands with News Corp’s Campbell Reid as moderator Geraldine Doogue looks on. Picture: Britta Campion/The Australian

Mr Reid said "contested warrants" were at the top of the group's list of demands.

"We want the right to argue, if our journalists or the ABC are to be investigated … we want to be in front of a judge saying we don't think this is right," he said.

Ms Buttrose said the ABC had "already lost a couple of stories because whistleblowers have withdrawn" in the wake of the raids.

The purpose of the raids was to "put terror into whistleblowers," she said.

Mr Reid concurred.

"The motivation (behind the raids) is to intimidate not the reporter or the news organisation, but to those people who might dare to speak (to the media)," he said.