SYDNEY: Australian police Tuesday raided the offices of a commercial television network and magazine stable over a tell-all deal with drug mule Schapelle Corby who was paroled in Indonesia last week.
Seven Network employees said the Australian Federal Police (AFP) 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.
"AFP served a search warrant in relation to a possible proceeds of crime investigation into dealings between #Schapelle and @sundaynighton7," he added, referring to the current affairs programme reported to have secured the tell-all Corby deal.
The Australian Federal Police would not go into details but 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.
Veteran Seven Network journalist Mike Willesee, who was in Bali holed up in the same villa as Corby and her entourage following her parole, said the raids would "finally nail the lie of the two million dollar payment" being speculated by the Australian media.
"(The police) will find nothing. They will find no payment because there is no payment," said Willesee.
"We've positioned ourselves to be the first in line if there is an interview. There is no deal."
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.
In 2011 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 in 2012.
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.
Indonesian officials have warned Corby, whose case has been the subject of huge fascination in Australia since her 2004 arrest in Bali, that doing such an interview could be a breach of her parole terms. -AFP