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Journalist faces harassment, threats of imprisonment for refusing to reveal a source

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Says Western Australia Government Must Stop Campaign of Harassment

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns threats of jail and harassment towards Sunday Times reporter Paul Lampathakis after he refused to reveal an information source to the Western Australian government.

According to the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), an IFJ affiliate, Lampathakis was reportedly called before a State Parliament Upper House inquiry this week and ordered to reveal the source of a leak about Western Australia Government plans for a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.

The reporter, who refused to name the source in accordance with the Alliance's Code of Ethics for journalists, was allegedly threatened with a lengthy jail term for either contempt of Parliament or violation of the criminal code, the Alliance reports.

Lampathakis' office was reportedly raided by state police in April and his journalist colleagues searched and questioned. One reporter from The Australian newspaper, which shares the same building, had her suitcase emptied and searched after returning from a country assignment.

Alliance Western Australia Branch Secretary Michael Sinclair-Jones said Lampathakis was the sixth Western Australian journalist to be threatened with jail over confidential sources in the past 18 months.

"Journalists who adhere to the nationally accepted Code of Ethics must not be subject to bullying and harassment of this kind," said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"Press freedom is a pillar of a healthy democracy. For a government to interrupt the exchange of information between journalists, their sources, and the public endangers the longstanding respect for press freedom in the Australian media."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries worldwide.

For further information on a recent case linked to the confidentiality of journalists' sources, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93547

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