Nick Holmes a Court, CEO of web-based media companies BuzzNumbers and ShiftedPixels, was walking to his home near Kings Cross in Sydney about 10pm on December 19.
He said police forcibly took his BlackBerry phone and threatened him with arrest both under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act and for allegedly disobeying a police directive.
Mr Holmes a Court said he had started filming what looked like a search after he noticed a group of police walking down his street.
“I went to one guy and asked what was going on but he told me to move along, and if I didn’t they’d be able to arrest me,” he said.
“So I moved down the street a few hundred metres to where my apartment was, pulled out my phone and started filming.”
Mr Holmes a Court said he had stopped filming before two of the police officers approached, demanding he surrender his BlackBerry mobile phone and telling him he had committed a crime if he had recorded them.
“It was in my hand, and they were saying, ‘Give me your phone, give me your phone,’ but I just kept repeating, ‘I do not consent to a search of my phone’,” Mr Holmes a Court said.
“It was pulled out of my hand – it wasn’t me handing it over to her – and now I’ve got this girl looking through my phone and all my content – my contacts, photos, text messages and emails.”
Mr Holmes a Court said he repeatedly complained to the police while they tampered with his phone, but was told to “shut up”.
“They forcefully did it in front of me, wouldn’t give me my phone back until they deleted it, and just kept telling me to shut up.”
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said police did not have the authority to confiscate cameras or stop people from taking pictures of them performing their duties.
“It’s not appropriate for the police to be stopping people taking pictures of them,” Mr Cope said.
“They’ve got no power to do that, none whatsoever, and they’ve got no power to confiscate cameras.
“Why should they be fighting being scrutinised?”