|Police search Aussie network over deal with drug mule Corby
Australian police raided the offices of a commercial television network and magazine stable over a tell-all deal with convicted drug mule Schapelle Corby who was paroled by Indonesia last week, AFP reports.
The Gold Coast woman is known as the marijuana queen. In October 2004, Corby was arrested in Bali with 4.1 kilograms of marijuana. It was the biggest haul at Denpasar airport. She maintained her innocence.
Seven Network employees said the Australian Federal Police descended on their Sydney offices with a search warrant related to their reported securing of an exclusive interview with the 36-year-old on her nine years inside Bali's Kerobokan prison.
“At about 8:55am at least a dozen AFP officers raided the Seven West Media headquarters at Jones Bay,'' tweeted Seven employee Gus Bruno.
Police confirmed that “it has executed a number of search warrants in Sydney in relation to an ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act matter.’’
“As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment any further,'' a spokesperson said.
In an online story about the raids, Seven News said police “also conducted a raid on the Pacific Magazines office'' in central Sydney.
The magazine group, publisher of popular gossip title New Idea, reportedly joined forces with Seven to pay a seven-figure deal to Corby, which is yet to be confirmed by either outlet.
Under Australian law it is illegal to profit from a crime, even offences committed in other countries, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made clear that Corby should not be able to cash in.
The government went after former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks under proceeds of crime legislation, attempting to seize the profits from his autobiography about his time in the US-run prison in Cuba.
It ultimately dropped the case.
Seven reporter Damien Smith, who was present at the raids with a camera crew, said it was “no secret that Sunday Night has been the frontrunner in seeking rights to get an exclusive interview.’’
“This warrant has come at a time when Indonesian officials are telling Schapelle that she could go back to jail if she does an interview,'' he said.