Australian Federal Police (AFP) carried out a secretive, early morning raid on a house in Canberra belonging to Australian Signals Directorate officer Cameron Gill, husband of the country’s ambassador to Iraq Joanne Loundes.
Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs coming from the house during the search and police officers were seen leaving the building carrying black sacks several hours later at roughly 3pm local time.
Gill, who previously worked as a policy advisor for a number of government ministries, is known to have lived in the property as recently as March of this year, and Loundes is understood to have returned from overseas recently. The exact circumstances of the raid remain somewhat of a mystery and the AFP have issued only generic statements regarding the operation.
“This activity does not relate to any current or impending threat to the Australian community,” the AFP said in a statement.
“As this is an ongoing matter, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
The AFP has thus far refused to respond to questions regarding the raid from Australian media.
Canberra lawyer Kamy Saeedi, who was on the scene when the media arrived, told reporters outside the Canberra home that the situation was “complex” and “sensitive” and declined to comment further.
It remains unknown whether the raid is linked to previous raids conducted by the AFP on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s home regarding a story she had published reporting that the heads of Defence and Home Affairs were planning to expand state surveillance powers, citing leaked documents marked “secret, Australian eyes only.”
“We have always said the AFP raids on journalists were not intended to intimidate journalists but the people who have the courage to talk to journalists,” News Corps executive Campbell Reid said in a statement.
“Today we are seeing that process of intimidation continue.”
At the time, a parliamentary inquiry was launched to investigate the infringement of press freedoms.
Greens senator and chair of an inquiry into press freedom and whistleblower protections, Sarah Hanson-Young, said the federal government must declare whether Wednesday’s raid was connected to the previous Smethurst raids.
“First the Federal Police raided the journalists, today they’ve raided public servants. For what purpose? Intimidating whistleblowers and truth tellers? Australians deserve to know what is going on and who in the Government wants the public kept in the dark,” she wrote on Twitter.