AFP statement on the finalisation of the News Corp investigation

Editor's note to media: Attributable to AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney 

The AFP has made the decision to finalise our investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of a national security document which resulted in the execution of a search warrant at the home of journalist, Annika Smethurst, in June 2019.

This investigation began in April 2018, when the AFP received a complaint from the Secretary of the Department of Defence regarding the publication of national security information in a news article.

On 15 April 2020, following a challenge to the High Court of Australia, the High Court determined the warrant used in the execution of the search warrant in relation to Annika Smethurst was invalid.

However, the High Court declined to order the return or destruction of the seized material.

The AFP accepts and respects the decision of the High Court.

Following this decision, the AFP has reviewed all available material and determined there is insufficient evidence to progress the investigation in relation to the unauthorised disclosure of the classified document.

As a result, a decision has been made to finalise the investigation.

I acknowledge the significant media and community interest in this matter as it relates to press freedom, in what has been a complex investigation.

Firstly, I want to reiterate that at all times our investigators have acted in good faith during this investigation.

Investigating breaches of Commonwealth criminal law is the AFP’s job.

This was a serious breach of national security information that needed to be investigated.

We did our job, we investigated and moving forward we will continue to do our job in the many thousands of investigations the AFP undertakes in serving the Australian community.


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