SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police, seeking to prevent a convicted drug trafficker from profiting from her life story, raided on Tuesday the headquarters of a television network that is negotiating an exclusive interview deal.
Schapelle Corby has been holed up in an expensive Bali resort since she was released on parole last week from a nearby Indonesian prison. The 35-year-old Australian has been negotiating with media companies to sell her story about being caught at Bali's airport with 4.2 kilograms (9 pounds) of marijuana in her surfboard bag and spending the next nine years in prison.
Australian Federal Police confirmed that they searched Seven Network headquarters in Sydney to enforce a law that allows courts to seize any profits a criminal makes from books or media interviews. Tim Worner, chief executive of Seven West Media, which owns the network as well as magazines, newspapers and radio stations, said 30 police officers had taken part in raids that also targeted company lawyers and the offices of Pacific Magazines in Sydney.
A Pacific Magazines publication, New Idea, is also vying for a Corby exclusive. Worner said the raids were a surprise because his company had been cooperating with the police investigation since last week.
Police "did not seem to accept that we have not reached an agreement or understanding with Schapelle Corby," he said in a statement. He said police had attempted to access all news and corporate records.
"This is without justification and quite possibly unprecedented for a media organization," Worner said. Indonesian authorities have also warned Corby that any interview could breach her parole conditions, which stipulate she must not cause unrest. She is to remain in Indonesia on parole until 2017 and can be returned to prison to complete her sentence during that time.
Corby has maintained her innocence and denied knowledge of who put the marijuana in her bag. Telling that story has already brought the Corby family into conflict with Australia's Proceeds of Crime Act.
In 2007, a court in her home state of Queensland ordered Corby, her sister Mercedes and Mercedes' Indonesian husband, Wayan Widyartha, to hand over 128,800 Australian dollars they earned from a book and magazine interview deal.
Corby would be the highest-profile target fora proceeds of crime suit since David Hicks, the first Guantanamo Bay prisoner convicted of war crimes. Hicks, an Australian, wrote a book about his experiences in the U.S. military prison on Cuba despite the government's amendment of the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that it applied to convictions by U.S. military commissions.
But prosecutors dropped the suit against Hicks in 2012, citing legal complications.