ABC asked to hand over all WA climate protest footage

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The West Australian police has asked the ABC to hand over all footage collected by its flagship investigations program, Four Corners, related to climate protests, including footage targeting the home of Woodside boss Meg O’Neill.

The public broadcaster has received an order to produce footage from the Western Australia Police Force ahead of the airing of a Four Corners episode next Monday.

The ABC declined to comment.

A WA Police spokeswoman said: “Without commenting on any specific case, generally speaking, orders to produce are routinely used to gather materials for investigations and are issued to people and businesses including news organisations.”

The Four Corners episode has caused a stir in Western Australia after ABC employees were present at a protest outside the Woodside CEO’s house.

The episode “Escalation: Climate, protest and the fight for the future” has already attracted significant media attention, after a Four Corners team was present when the police in August apprehended members of activist group Disrupt Burrup Hub outside the O’Neills’ Perth home.

A week later, the ABC’s managing director, David Anderson, walked back claims the Four Corners crew had no prior knowledge of the protest, which resulted in two men being charged by police.

Media adviser for the Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign Jesse Noakes and one of the men arrested by WA Police said it was astonishing the ABC may have to order its journalists to break the most fundamental principle of journalism, protecting sources at all costs.

“At trial next month, I am facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for doing what the ABC apparently won’t – refusing to give police access to my sources. If the ABC give in to WA authorities and betray their sources, who will ever trust the ABC with their story again?” Noakes said.

“This level of unprecedented overreach from the WA government only serves to illustrate and reinforce the story that Four Corners will tell on Monday night.

“However, it is imperative that the ABC stick to their guns, back in their reporters and protect the young people standing up to tell the most important story of our time: the fight to stop Woodside’s Burrup Hub from destroying our only home, planet earth.”

Noakes faces trial on November 6 for four counts of refusing to obey a data access order after several raids on his office, resulting in the seizure of several devices this year.

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