news The Australian Federal Police’s NBN raids last night on Labor MPs and their staffers must not be tolerated and make Australia look like it has become an “Asian democratic backwater”, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a statement this afternoon.
Late last night AFP officers raided the Melbourne office of former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and the house of at least one Labor staffer working for Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare, in an apparent attempt to ascertain the identity of whistleblowers who have leaked a series of key documents from within the NBN company.
Delimiter and a number of other media outlets have also been reportedly named as part of the search warrant issued last night, although the AFP has not been in contact with Delimiter regarding the issue.
Although the AFP has denied any political influence on the investigation, opposition Leader Bill Shorten subsequently blasted Malcolm Turnbull for what he said was the Prime Minister’s attempts to stop the public from knowing the “truth” about the National Broadband Network, which the Opposition Leader said had become a “national disgrace” under Turnbull’s watch.
In a statement issued this afternoon, WikiLeaks Julian Assange strongly criticised the Australian Federal Police, as well as both major sides of politics for the events last night and the broader media freedom situation in Australia.
“The Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the opposition (ALP) cannot be tolerated,” Assange said.
“Raiding a suspected media source for a story embarrassing to the government is bad enough. But to raid the Opposition during a Federal Election campaign in order to hunt down the source of such stories makes Australia look like it has become an Asian democratic backwater.”
Assange said, however, that it was “hard” for him to have much sympathy for what he described as the “hypocritical” Australian Labor Party, because the WikiLeaks founder said the previous Labor Government had created a whole of government task force against him, including the AFP, “in order to ingratiate itself with the US”.”
But the issue is not about ALP or the Government,” said Assange. “It is about the rights of all Australians to know what their government is up to.”
“When the Opposition and the media work together to publicly reveal infrastructure mismanagement, they are doing their jobs and doing it well.”
“When police conduct raids on the Opposition during an election to hunt down media sources, they are not doing their job. They’re stopping all the rest of us from doing ours. It is not the role of policemen to interfere with elections–whether instructed to do so by the Government or not.”