UK counter-terrorism measures threaten press freedom

Committee to Protect Journalists reports: For journalists investigating jihadist networks, the UK is proving to be no safe haven. British police used special powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 in August to seize the laptop of Secunder Kermani, a reporter for BBC Two’s flagship news show “Newsnight,” according to reports. “They required the BBC to hand over communication between the BBC journalist and a man in Syria who publicly identified himself as an [Islamic State] member,” BBC spokeswoman said today.

Kermani is known in the UK for his coverage of militant groups and, as British daily The Independent noted, “He has built a reputation for making contact with Western-born [Islamic State] fighters and interviewing them online about their motivations.” The reporter has received some criticism for his coverage however, including by the UK’s former security minister Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, who said last year that publicity gives terrorists “a status and importance they should not be accorded.”

The move by police has sent a chill through the British media. Ian Katz, editor of “Newsnight,” told news outlets, “We are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest.” [Continue reading…]

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