AU Court Says X No Longer Forced to Delete Videos of Sydney Church Stabbing as Legal Battle over Footage Continues

By Jose Resurreccion

May 13, 2024 01:14 AM EDT

AU Court Says X No Longer Forced to Delete Videos of Sydney Church Stabbing as Legal Battle over Footage Continues
A member of NSW Forensic police is seen at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in the suburb of Wakeley on April 16, 2024 in Sydney, Australia.
(Photo : Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The Australian Federal Court rejected an application to extend a temporary injunction filed by the country's eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, against X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, in the aftermath of the April 15 knife attack against Assyrian Orthodox bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. 

Australian public broadcaster SBS reported that the injunction was imposed on 65 websites that published the clip of the video of the attack, which resulted in Emmanuel losing sight in one of his eyes. 

Federal Court Justice Geoffrey Kennett ruled Monday (May 13) that the injunction has already been extended once and Grant's request was rejected ahead of another court hearing on Wednesday (May 15). 

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Legal Battle Over Stabbing Footage

In a hearing last week, X's local attorney, Bret Walker told the court that the wording of the order to hide the tweets was not something the platform could technically comply with.

The company's legal team also argued that the video should never have been the subject of a removal notice because it was not too graphic, did not glorify terrorism, and did not meet the legal threshold. 

On the other hand, Grant's legal representative, Tim Begbie, said that X's policies permitted the Elon Musk-owned platform to take posts down globally only when it suited them, adding that the company only sees it as unreasonable when it was told to do so by Australian law. 

After the attack, X was ordered to remove access to the video for Australian users after the footage was categorized as a "Class 1" classification under the country's Online Safety Act.

However, while X blocked Australian users from viewing the clip, the court heard that virtual private networks (VPN) had allowed users to circumvent geographic restrictions and view the footage anyway. 

The Federal Court of Australia is one of the country's three penultimate appellate judicial authorities, only superseded in rank by its High Court based in Canberra. The other ones include the Supreme Courts of Australian states and territories, and the Federal Circuit and Family Court. 

READ MORE: Prominent Australian Businessman Dies After Head Repeatedly Hit With 'Blunt Object' Inside Home; Killer Still on the Loose

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