SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 14, 2018

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):University of Canterbury

Region & Country:Oceania | New Zealand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In February 2018, unidentified individuals reportedly burglarized the home of Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of political science, in apparent retaliation for her research regarding China. Professor Brady has also reported receiving threats and that her sources in China have been interrogated.

Professor Brady, who specializes in Chinese and polar politics, is known for, among other works, a report published in September 2017 titled “Magic Weapons: China’s political influence activities under Xi Jinping”, which describes tactics allegedly used by China to influence public opinion and political elites in the South Pacific.

On February 15, 2018, Professor Brady reportedly informed the Australian Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) that her house had been burglarized the previous day, after she received an anonymous letter warning her of possible retaliation for her research. Three laptops, phones, and USB storage devices were reportedly stolen during the incident, while other valuable items remained untouched. This was the second such recent incident involving Professor Brady: her university office was broken into  in December 2017.

While addressing the ISC, Professor Brady also reported that, after she visited China in 2017 on a research trip, several of her research contacts were questioned by officials from China’s MInistry of State Security about their connections with her.

As of this report, New Zealand authorities are conducting an investigation into the incidents.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the harassment of and threats against a scholar, as well as the theft of the scholar’s property, all apparently aimed at intimidating the scholar, surveilling her work, invading her privacy, or otherwise retaliating against or preventing the exercise of academic freedom — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere in the peaceful exercise of academic freedom or freedom of expression within or outside their national borders. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions limit academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.