AFP statement on activity in Canberra and Sydney

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) can confirm there is no link between the execution of search warrants in the ACT suburb of Kingston yesterday (4 June 2019) and those on the Ultimo premises of the ABC today (5 June 2019). Both relate to separate allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act 1914, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.

The AFP received two separate referrals from agency heads in relation to these serious matters.

The AFP’s actions have been independent and impartial at all times. The AFP’s role is to investigate breaches of Commonwealth criminal law.  When the AFP receives referrals it assesses them for criminality and does not make value judgements on the issue. It identifies whether there have been any contraventions of Commonwealth law, and evidence as to whether the offence has been committed or otherwise.

AFP investigators are required to assess all the relevant facts in every matter. This includes enquiries into the classification of the information concerned, how it was handled and who had access to it. The execution of search warrants is an important tool to enable our investigators to achieve this, but it is just one aspect of our work. There are many avenues of inquiry and tools available to the AFP in investigations such as this.

All AFP search warrants are authorised by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary. This is the result of supporting documentation or material being presented to the court which provides sufficient suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed.

The AFP can confirm the Minister for Home Affairs was not notified prior to the execution of the warrants.

The search warrants related to secrecy offences in Part 6 and 7 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The AFP was unable to rely on the revised secrecy offences inserted into the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) by the National Security Legislation (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Act 2018 (Cth), as the alleged conduct occurred before the new offences commenced. 

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