A leaked intelligence dossier has revealed that Victoria Police targeted Rebel News unfairly, accusing it of deliberately 'provoking' left-wing protesters at rallies in Melbourne.
The document, obtained by undisclosed sources and reported by Victorian newspaper the Herald Sun, suggested that Rebel News aimed to "create hostility" with left-wing protesters and capture content for online dissemination.
Rebel News, known for its mission to present alternative perspectives often overlooked by mainstream media, strongly refutes these claims – pointing to its wide-ranging coverage at the events.
At the most recent protest, Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini engaged with attendees spanning the political spectrum, including both far-left Antifa protesters and far-right Neo-Nazis, in an effort to showcase the tensions and deeper issues ignored or often misrepresented by mainstream reporting.
Yemini has previously been targeted by Victoria Police, having been unlawfully arrested on three separate occasions, leading to official apologies from the police force.
"My objective from the start was to ensure that I could do my job like any other reporter, even if people are threatening me and they don't like what I'm saying." Yemini said at the time of the apology.
Police stated that "Mr. Yemini was wrongly arrested and detained by members of Victoria Police while reporting for Rebel News."
However, the newly leaked dossier has revealed Victoria Police's continued efforts to suppress independent journalism and impede coverage of topics and events of significant public interest.
Despite the documented incidents involving Rebel News, the force allegedly maintains a campaign to stifle its reporting at public gatherings.
Victoria Police also faced criticism for their handling of the 'Let Women Speak' rally, where Neo-Nazis performed Hitler salutes and clashed with other groups on the steps of parliament.
The force cited limited resources and unplanned staff leave as reasons for their inadequate management of the event. The dossier also reveals that police were aware of the presence of former Liberal MP Moira Deeming and anticipated Neo-Nazi involvement, warning officers about potential agitators.
Victoria Police acknowledged the difficulties associated with managing protests and preventing clashes between opposing groups, emphasising their role in maintaining peace, however the leaked documents reveal they shockingly percieved Yemini, an independent Jewish reporter, in a similar category as the Neo-Nazi agitators.
Prominent Neo-Nazis when questioned by Yemini showed clear opposing views, at times taunting the Rebel News reporter during the interview over his Jewish background.
Pre-event briefing documents cautioned officers about protester tactics and risks, including engagement with alternative media outlets like Rebel News.
The documents alleged that such outlets aimed to deliberately provoke reactions from individuals, including the police, by asking provocative questions and creating an atmosphere of hostility.
Post-event analysis identified shortcomings in police preparation and acknowledged the volatile behavior of the crowd, with all groups exhibiting combative tendencies and attempting to breach police lines. Victoria Police issued a statement condemning the rally's "appalling action" and expressed openness to proposed legislation addressing such behavior.
The leaked intelligence dossier raises concerns about the treatment of independent media by Victoria Police, particularly Rebel News, and their alleged attempts to hinder freedom of the press at public events.