Oh no, not again. A News Limited newspaper — this time The Australian — is the recipient of a juicy leak in a terrorism case. This time it’s an extract from a 142 page transcript of an AFP interview with Mohammed Haneef.
This is the second significant leak in a terrorism related case The Australian has published in the past three months. In May The Australian’s Cameron Stewart used leaked AFP material in a story on the alleged activities of those charged with aiding the Tamil Tigers.
In 2005, when ASIO raided premises in Melbourne and Sydney as part of an anti-terrorism investigation The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun and The Australian published significant details of the raids.
No issue can be taken with newspapers and other media outlets publishing leaks on sexy topics like terrorism. That’s their job. But the question is, is there a pattern emerging here? Why is it that when there are significant developments in anti-terrorism investigations there are stunning leaks to selected media organisations, which are generally damaging to the accused?
While AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty implied this morning that Dr Haneef’s lawyers had leaked the record of interview to The Australian, how can we be so sure, given recent history?
Law enforcement and security agencies have a long history of leaking material to suit their case, and seeking to influence the community climate. And one can never rule out the possibility that government ministers also leak material directly or indirectly in such cases for political ends.
So the accusation that Dr Haneef’s lawyers are responsible for The Australian’s front page coup today should be taken with a grain of salt.
There is also an irony in Mr Keelty’s protestation this morning that the leak of the interview with Dr Haneef undermines the judicial process. Surely Mr Keelty’s political masters have done that spectacularly over the past few weeks with their jack-boot approach to Dr Haneef and their gross disrespect of Magistrate Jacqui Payne’s decision to grant him bail.