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IFJ hails milestone victory of journalist on protection of sources

(IFJ/IFEX) - 18 June 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today welcomed the decision of the court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to dismiss the application of the Police Services of Northern Ireland (PSNI) about forcing the Sunday Tribune's journalist, Suzanne Breen, to reveal her source for the story she published on the murder of two British soldiers by the Real IRA.

"This is a historic victory in the journalists' fight for the protection of sources," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is a milestone achievement for Suzanne and the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland who have supported her throughout the process."

Judge Burgess, hearing the application, today ruled that granting the application would breach the journalist's right to life under the European Convention. The PSNI was seeking a court order against Suzanne to hand over material, including tapes and notes which contained information of her source and a member of the paramilitary group, the Real IRA, which claimed responsibility for the murder of the soldiers in March.

The IFJ supported the arguments of Suzanne that handing over the material for her story would not just infringe her right as a journalist to protect her source, but also put her at the serious risk of violence from the paramilitary group.

"This decision spares our colleague a real and serious risk to her safety," added White. "The PSNI sought to turn media into unwilling police informants at the expenses of independent and safe journalism."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide.

Case history

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