In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the AFP confirmed it had submitted a brief of evidence to the CDPP “regarding three potential criminal charges relating to the matter”.
“The CDPP has advised the AFP that it determined there were reasonable prospects of conviction in relation to two of the charges,” the AFP said.
“In determining whether the matter should be prosecuted, the CDPP considered a range of public interest factors, including the role of public interest journalism in Australia’s democracy. The CDPP determined the public interest does not require a prosecution in the particular circumstances of this case.
“As a result of this determination, the AFP has finalised its investigation into Mr Oakes.”
The CDPP decision comes after Attorney-General Christian Porter last year declared he would be “seriously disinclined” to authorise the prosecution of journalists for publishing secret information.
ABC managing director David Anderson said the public broadcaster welcomed the AFP’s decision, but also maintain the view the matter should never have gone this far.
“That the CDPP has reached the decision that prosecuting our journalists is not in the public interest only compounds what we have argued all along: Journalists in this country should not be prosecuted for doing their jobs and legislation needs to be changed to provide proper protection for journalists and their sources when they are acting in the public interest,” Mr Anderson said.
“This whole episode has been both disappointing and disturbing.
“The Afghan Files is factual and important reporting which exposed allegations about Australian soldiers committing war crimes in Afghanistan.”
Federal police raided the ABC’s Sydney headquarters on June 5, 2019, over the leaked documents.
The documents revealed incidents of Australian troops killing unarmed men and children, which were being investigated as potential unlawful killings.
ABC’s news director Gaven Morris said the pressure on Oakes and Clark during the investigation has been “extreme, and they have handled it with admirable fortitude”.
“It’s more than three years since the ABC published The Afghan Files and over a year since the AFP raided our Ultimo building hunting information on the confidential sources for that reporting,” Mr Morris said.
“While we’re enormously relieved the ordeal is now over for them, the ABC’s fight for public interest journalism to be protected is far from over.
“We will always back our journalists to report independently and without fear or favour stories Australians’ have a right to know.”
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Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.