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EUROPE USES ANTI-TERROR LAWS TO RESTRICT FREE SPEECH, SAYS PRIVACY INTERNATIONAL

Anti-terrorism legislation is being used to suppress political and controversial speech in many areas of Europe, a new study by Privacy International has found. Privacy International is an interim member of IFEX.

"Speaking of Terror" reveals the adverse effects of new counter-terrorism laws on media and free expression rights in European countries.

In too many cases, the study finds, anti-terrorism laws and policies appear to be used to protect the political interests of governments. Journalists have been increasingly placed under pressure in many jurisdictions with detentions, shutting down of newspapers or websites, and prosecutions - often for violating their duties to keep information secret.

Anti-terrorism laws also limit journalists' ability to access information. For example, access to information and protection of journalists' sources legislation - widely accepted and adopted across Europe - has been undermined by governments seeking to identify officials who provide information. The new anti-terrorism laws are also giving authorities wide powers to conduct surveillance, search newsrooms and demand disclosures.

The report also examines how the United Nations Security Council, European Union and Council of Europe promote the new laws while paying little attention to human rights. Their agendas are often driven by those countries, including the U.K., U.S. and Russia, that are most aggressive in adopting counter-terrorism laws, says Privacy International.

Download "Speaking of Terror: A survey of the effects of counter-terrorism legislation on freedom of the media in Europe" here: http://tinyurl.com/5qx5f8

For more information, contact: privacyint (@) privacy.org

(26 November 2008)

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