The Australian Federal Police has raided the Canberra home of a high-flying defence official and diplomat, in a secretive operation that has brought the question of press freedom in Australia back into sharp focus.
Police confirmed shortly before midday on Wednesday officers were executing a search warrant at a home in Griffith, in Canberra's south.
Land title searches show an owner of the house is Cameron Gill, a former senior defence adviser to Coalition ministers who is understood to have worked for the Australian Signals Directorate.
Another owner is Australia's ambassador to Iraq, Dr Joanne Loundes, who is also a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A spokesperson would not state what prompted the raid, nor who the target was, but said the search warrant did not relate to any current or impending threat to the Australian community.
"As this is an ongoing matter, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time," an AFP spokesperson said.
Police officers emerged from the home about 2.30pm carrying large black garbage bags of material.
They batted away questions from media, who had been camped out the front for several hours.
Canberra lawyer Kamy Saeedi was seen leaving the house almost an hour after police left.
Mr Saeedi confirmed he was acting for a person who was the subject of the raid, but said he could not say anything else.
The secrecy surrounding the raids prompted an outcry from media organisations and parliamentarians.
Crossbench senator Rex Patrick urged the AFP to be transparent about the purpose of the operation, given twin raids on media outlets earlier in the year.
"Is this raid leak related?" Senator Patrick tweeted.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese also urged the government to clarify what had taken place.
"Journalism isn't a crime and I support freedom of the press. It's up to the government to say why all of this has occurred on its watch," Mr Albanese said.
In a statement, News Corp Australia executive Campbell Reid said "the AFP raids on journalists were not intended to intimidate journalists but the people who have the courage to talk to journalists".
"Today we are seeing that process of intimidation continue."
The operation comes three months after federal police raided the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the Sydney headquarters of the ABC.
The June raids, which came a day apart, were related to two separate leaks.
Smethurst's story, published in April 2018, alleged the heads of Defence and Home Affairs discussed new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australians for the first time, based on leaked classified documents. The intelligence agency is currently restricted to gathering intelligence and fighting cyber crime offshore.
The ABC meanwhile published allegations of war crimes carried out by Australia's special forces in Afghanistan, based on hundreds of pages of classified documents in July 2017. Former military lawyer David McBride is currently facing charges in the ACT Supreme Court over that leak.
Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo told a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom last month he believed police were close to tracking down the source of the Smethurst story.
"The person who gave [her] the document broke two confidences. One is they leaked a top secret document and frankly, subject to judicial process and fair process, they should go to jail for that," Mr Pezzullo said.
"And secondly it was designed to play into a Canberra game about which agency is asking other agencies to expand its powers or remit and its completely unacceptable for public servants to be playing in that way."
The police investigation into both leaks has totalled nearly $300,000.
The Department of Home Affairs declined to comment on Wednesday.
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