Secret service seizes documents from Australian broadcaster

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An urgent investigation has been launched by the Australian government after a pair of locked filing drawers containing top secret Cabinet documents were accidentally sold as second-hand furniture.

ABC reporters Ashlynne McGhee and Michale McKinnon revealed the documents - and the nature of their discovery - in an expose titled The Cabinet Files.

The secrets of five successive Australian governments have been laid bare after hundreds of documents from over the last decade, many of them classified, were discovered in second hand furniture shop.

The files also reveal that almost 200 top-secret code-word protected and sensitive documents were left in the office of minister Penny Wong when Labor lost the 2013 election.

John Howard's National Security Committee (NSC) nearly removed the right to remain silent. The filing cabinets in question were sold off especially cheaply, because they were clearly full, and no-one could find the keys.

Australian Cabinet documents are normally sealed and kept confidential until they are released to the public 20 years later.

The Australian government ordered an urgent investigation within an hour after the leak.

When ABC began publishing some of the news from the documents this week, it triggered speculation about a possible leak in the current government that Turnbull has led since 2015.

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"Abbott gave all my government's cabinet documents to the Royal Commission on the Home Insulation Program, against the advice of the Prime Minister's department and the Australian Government Solicitor", he said. "And having seen this document, and all other relevant cabinet papers, the Royal Commission concluded that there was no finding to be made against me".

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) lost track of nearly 400 files relating to national security (not the same documents found in the filing cabinets).

This image made from video provided by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., (ABC) shows documents box being placed in safe at the ABC bureau in the Australian Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said he believed a junior or mid-ranking departmental officer was to blame and insisted they "pay a price".

In response to The Cabinet Files, Rudd told the ABC any assertion he was warned about safety risks was untrue.

ABC revealed Wednesday it had thousands of Cabinet documents that had been found inside surplus government filing cabinets.

"Seeking to minimize the fallout of the security lapse, prominent conservative lawmakers have sought to focus attention on the decision of the ABC to publish details found within the top secret files". It also mentioned that former Prime Minister John Howard's administration had debated removing the right of people to remain silent under police questioning. Those documents were eventually found by security staff, who saw them destroyed.

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