Australian police drop case against journalist who reported ‘war crimes’

Australian police drop case against journalist who reported 'war crimes'
Police had alleged the journalist broke national security laws. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Australian police say they will not prosecute the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) journalist for his reporting on alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers.

The coverage by Dan Oakes for the ABC in 2017 was based on leaks from government whistleblowers.

Police raided the ABC’s Sydney newsroom last year and said the reporting had breached national security laws.

The ABC on Thursday welcomed the police decision but called for law changes.

Police had outlined three potential criminal charges.

John Lyons, the ABC’s head of investigative journalism, says: “It’s 763 days since Dan was told he was a ‘suspect’.”

“[He] should not have endured this. Media law reform is vital,” he said.

The public broadcaster lost a court challenge in February against police powers to raid its newsroom.

The police raids on the ABC and the home of a News Corp Australia journalist had sparked a backlash from the media and press freedom advocates.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Thursday that federal prosecutors had determined there were “reasonable prospects of conviction” in Mr Oakes’s case.

But it said prosecutors had advised against pursuing the charges, in part because the journalism was in the public’s interest.

The AFP said in a statement: “[Prosecutors] determined the public interest does not require a prosecution in the particular circumstances of this case.”

A similar case against News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst was dropped in May.

Police had searched the journalist’s home after she reported in 2018 that the government had considered a plan to spy on its citizens.

Australia dropped two spots on the World Press Freedom Index last year, to rank 21st out of 177 countries.

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