'I Was Expecting A Cleaner, And The AFP Were At My Door Then In My Oven'
The AFP officers who raided Annika Smethurst's home left no stone unturned, searching top to bottom in what the News Corp journalist described as an "uncomfortable" invasion of privacy.
Officers presented Smethurst -- the national political editor of News Corp's Sunday tabloids -- with a search warrant on Tuesday morning over a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians.
Speaking on The Project on Thursday night, Smethurst said every corner of her property was scrutinised.
"I was just getting ready to go to work," she said.
"And I heard a knock on the door. I was actually expecting a house cleaner.
"And there was five AFP officers. They told me they had a warrant to search the property, once they realised I was home another two showed up."
Smethurst said the officers proceeded to search her home for the next seven hours, going through her underwear drawer, looking inside her oven and checking every book she owns "page by page".
"I was sort of joking that if somebody asked me to find a USB stick I wouldn't be able to find one," she said.
"And they went through everything and managed to find 20...so now I've got a bunch of them."
It was the first of two AFP raids on high-profile journalists this week.
Officers spent eight hours inside the ABC's Sydney headquarters on Wednesday over a series of investigative stories exposing special forces misconduct in Afghanistan.
Smethurst said while she is a fairly hardened journalist who is not easily rattled, the raid on her home was a really "off-putting experience" -- particularly the search of her technological devices.
"They were able to take everything off my phone," she said.
"My search history, every phone call, every text message, every screenshot. I'm a 30-something-year-old woman I had something like 15,000 photos in my phone and they went through them in front of me," she said.
The world media has condemned the raids, which have been described by rights groups as a direct attack on press freedom.
"This police raid against our partners at ABC is an attack on press freedom which we at the BBC find deeply troubling," the BBC said in a statement.
"At a time when the media is becoming less free across the world, it is highly worrying if a public broadcaster is being targeted for doing its job of reporting in the public interest."
AFP Acting Commissioner Neil Gaughan has rejected any suggestion the raids undertaken at Smethurst's home and the ABC were intended to intimidate journalists.
"The AFP is a strong supporter of press freedom," he said on Thursday.