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IPI disappointed at High Court decision forcing journalist to hand over confidential source material

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 1 July 2008 IPI press release:

IPI Disappointed at UK High Court Decision Forcing Journalist Shiv Malik to Hand Over Confidential Source Material

"IPI is concerned at the implications of this decision, which appears to be part of a wider trend across Europe depriving journalists of their right to protect their sources," said IPI Director David Dadge. "The High Court's decision will mean that sources will be less likely to come forward, potentially harming the public's access to important information."

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, expresses its disappointment at the United Kingdom High Court of Justice decision on 26 June 2008 requiring freelance journalist and author Shiv Malik to hand over source material to police authorities.

On 19 March 2008, Malik was served with a production order by the Greater Manchester Police requiring him to hand over all research material linked to his upcoming book, "Leaving Al-Qaida: Inside the Mind of a British Jihadist".

Malik sought judicial review against the production order. The High Court of Justice in London, which had previously decided that the terms of the original production order were too broad, narrowed these terms and ruled on 26 June that Malik must hand over all research material emanating from former radical Islamist Hassan Butt, the subject of Malik's book. Malik must hand over all the relevant materials within seven days of the order, and pay in full the legal costs of the police.

The Court justified the decision by stating that a "balance has to be struck between the protection of confidential material of journalists and the interest of us all in facilitating effective terrorist investigations."

On 23 May 2005, meeting at its Annual Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, the IPI membership unanimously passed a resolution on the protection of sources, stating: "As journalists, we seek no special privileges, nor do we seek to usurp the right of the authorities to carry out criminal investigations or to interfere with the administration of justice. Journalists always seek to attribute information to their sources; however, in the interests of society as a whole, we must be able to give assurances of protection to the sources of information given in confidence."

The Kenyan resolution went on to say: "Independent journalism enhances justice by bringing to light information that is important for the citizenry to know and that might otherwise remain hidden. If news media are to serve as the watchdogs of society, they must be able to gather information without fear of punishment for themselves or their sources." Calls to safeguard against the erosion of journalists' right to protect their sources were reiterated in a resolution at the IPI Annual Assembly on 16 June 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia ( see IPI website http://www.freemedia.at ).

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

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