Police in Australia search headquarters of ABC News in Sydney

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By Judith Prescott
Police in Australia search headquarters of ABC News in Sydney

Australian police have raided the offices of public broadcaster ABC News in Sydney - over allegations it had published classified material.

ABC says the operation was in relation to its 2017 reports about alleged misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

The raid was the second on a media outlet in two days, prompting complaints of assaults on press freedom.

Police raided the home of a News Corp editor a day earlier, although they said the raids were unrelated.

The police operations come barely two weeks after Australia's conservative government won a May 18 election it was widely expected to lose.

The home affairs minister Peter Dutton must authorise raids considered politically sensitive, according to guidelines on the police website.

He denied involvement in the police investigations and said his office was notified after the raids were carried out.

Henry Belot, a political reporter at ABC News, says the raid is a cause for concern as Australia has strong laws governing freedom of the press.

"It is very rare in Australia for this to happen as we do have a very robust free press here," he explains. "There have been occasions where police have search warrants and they've gone into newsrooms and said we need to have this information because it is a clear national security threat. But today is a little bit different because it was very broad."

The raids on two influential news organisations have sparked warnings that national security was being used to justify curbs on whistleblowing.