Well, isn’t this precious:
MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Director of Public Prosecutions for the Australian territory of Victoria is threatening Church Militant with prosecution if we don’t remove our article on Cdl. George Pell’s conviction for sex abuse.
Thursday, Kerri Judd, a member of the Queen’s Council, sent a letter to Church Militant informing us we are in breach of a suppression order issued by Chief Judge Peter Kidd, which prohibits publication of any information related to Pell’s conviction in Australia. The reason for the gag order is ostensibly to prevent influencing the jury in a forthcoming trial on a separate set of charges.
“The prohibition on publication in that order applies within all States and Territories of Australia and on any website or other electronic or broadcast format accessible within Australia,” Judd’s letter reads.
She requests that Church Militant “immediately remove the article from publication” — even though Church Militant is a U.S.-based corporation outside of Australia’s jurisdiction — going on to write, “I am currently considering my options with regard to sub judice contempt and breach of suppression order proceedings.”
Unlike in the United States, Australia has no constitutional right to free speech or freedom of the press. Such suppression orders are thus legal in Australia, and a media organization in Australia found in breach of such orders may be fined or even imprisoned. An Australian court has no jurisdiction, however, over foreign media organizations.
In fact, Chief Judge Peter Kidd of the County Court of Victoria, who presided over Pell’s trial, said during a meeting Thursday with Judd and Pell’s attorney that he was seriously considering punishing media organizations with up to five years’ imprisonment for what he deems “egregious and flagrant” breaches of his suppression order.
[G]iven how potentially egregious and flagrant these breaches are, a number of very important people in the media are facing, if found guilty, the prospect of imprisonment and indeed substantial imprisonment, and it may well be that many significant members of the media community are in that potential position. That being the case, that should inform us as to how the matter ought to be dealt with.
At one point, Judd also discusses the possibility of “extradition” of offenders. Such an order would involve a request that members of the media accused of violating the order and who are citizens of foreign countries be extradited to Australia for prosecution.
Go here to read the rest. Let me explain a few things to Judge Kidd:
- The Queen’s writ hasn’t run here since 1776.
- We have this pesky thing here called the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. An annoyance to power mad judges I know, but that is the way life is in these United States.
- The US-Australia extradition treaty, go here to read it, specifies the offenses under which extradition may occur, and defying a gag order by an Aussie judge with a very bad case of black robitis is not on that list.