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Police raids this week on an Australian media organisation and a journalist's home are the actions you would expect of an authoritarian regime, Professor Robert Patman says.

Prof Patman was commenting on Australian police's raid on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst, who reported that the government was considering a secret plan to spy on its citizens, and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Sydney headquarters over a 2017 investigative series that revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

Prof Patman called it "a stunning intervention in the circulation of free news in a pluralist democracy''.

"It is important that citizens have access to information that is robust and independent and is not censored by the government,'' Prof Patman, an international relations specialist based at the University of Otago, said.

"It's always a mark of an authoritarian regime; the first thing they do when you get a military coup, where you get subversion of democracy, is that the new authorities always take over the media.''

Prof Patman said denigration of independent media and encroachments on news media freedom was a worldwide trend.

"We have, for example, democratically elected leaders who persistently attack the press. Mr Trump in the United States has described certain media organs, such as CNN, as enemy of the people. That's very damaging.''

Freedom of the press was vital to a country's citizens, Prof Patman said.

"Let's be quite clear about this. Many politicians complain about the media because the media is doing its job . . . which is to ask them hard questions.''


People wanting unrestricted Free Speech should also want Freedom of The Press.


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