Dutton rejects calls to drop media leaks cases

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has rejected calls to drop legal action against journalists targeted in recent police raids.

Jul 12, 2019, updated Jul 12, 2019
Peter Dutton says it is against the law for journalists to have leaked secret documents. Photo: AAP/Dan Peled

Peter Dutton says it is against the law for journalists to have leaked secret documents. Photo: AAP/Dan Peled

Two ABC reporters and a News Corp journalist are under police investigation after publishing separate stories based on leaked government information.

The heads of both media organisations have written to the home affairs minister, asking that action against their journalists cease.

Dutton has pushed back against their requests.

He inferred ABC reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, along with News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst, had committed a crime.

However, the minister insisted he would not interfere in the police investigation.

“If you’ve got top secret documents and they’ve been leaked, it is an offence under the law,” Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.

“Nobody is above the law and the police have a job to do under the law.

“I think it is up to the police to investigate, to do it independently, and make a decision whether or not they prosecute.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese backed the media organisations, saying it would be a “common sense outcome” for the investigations to be abandoned.

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“Quite clearly the government needs to show leadership on this issue,” Albanese told the Nine Network.

“They have to point out what here was exposed that was inappropriate, that wasn’t in the public interest.”

The police raids have attracted international attention, with high profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney publicly challenging Australia to “be better than North Korea” on press freedom.


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