'We should feel uncomfortable': ABC staff

ABC Editorial Director Craig McMurtie has called the AFP raid an "uncomfortable development". Source: AAP

The ABC's editorial director has told media gathered outside the broadcaster's headquarters that everyone should feel uncomfortable about a police raid.

When federal police officers arrived at the ABC's Sydney headquarters they were perfectly polite, but staff say that doesn't mean the whole country shouldn't feel alarmed about the "highly unusual" raid.

Plain-clothed AFP officers raided the ABC's Ultimo offices on Wednesday in relation to 2017 news reports which suggested Australian defence personnel may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

ABC editorial director Craig McMurtrie told reporters gathered outside that the raid was an "uncomfortable development".

"Sometimes when we talk about press freedom to people who aren't in the media that can sound like a bit of a cliche, but we had AFP officers arriving today in suits - and they were perfectly polite - but we should feel uncomfortable about this," he said.

As McMurtrie was speaking to journalists from various news outlets the broadcaster's executive editor, John Lyons, was live tweeting from inside the building.

Lyons wrote after 2pm: "I'm still staggered by the power of this warrant. It allows the AFP to 'add, copy, delete or alter' material in the ABC's computers. All Australians, please think about that: as of this moment, the AFP has the power to delete material in the ABC's computers. Australia 2019."

He had earlier tweeted that the AFP warrant targeted "anything that at any point may have been involved in this story".

"This is, in my view, a chilling development for the Australian public. This is not just about the media, this is about the public's right to know."

Digital forensic officers are seeking material from reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark as well as news director Gaven Morris, the ABC reported.

The warrant mentions notes, correspondence, emails, briefings, schedules and "documents classified as secret", among other material, according to Lyons.

McMurtrie warned the police action wasn't just troubling for the ABC.

"We're talking about the ability of journalists - all of you - to do your job," he said.

Morris appeared outside to declare: "Journalism is not a crime."

"I would say to all of the journalists at the ABC and all the journalists across Australia - don't be afraid of the job you do," he told reporters.

"Stand up and be proud of it and continue to act in the public's interest."

Media Watch host Paul Barry told reporters that Wednesday's raid was "appalling".

"In 2018 the law was changed to give the public interest exemption to journalists, it's not applying in this case, it may be because the offence was too old," he said.

"But that's a scandal."

ABC managing director David Anderson said in a statement: "It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way."

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