Amnesty International has written to Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, outlining the human rights' organisation's serious concerns about the case of Suzanne Breen, northern editor for the Sunday Tribune.
A judgment in the case where Breen is facing a court order, issued under the Terrorism Act 2000, to hand over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland source material related to stories she has written about the Real IRA, is expected next week.
The Amnesty letter points out threats to Breen's right to a fair trial and highlights the risk to the freedom of the press, and investigative journalism.
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International said: "There are real concerns here about possible violations of Suzanne Breen's human rights. By using anti-terrorism legislation and the use of secret evidence, the Government has deprived her of the right to challenge the evidence used against her. That is an affront to natural justice and international human rights standards."
Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "We have reminded the Secretary of State that freedom of the press is a vital part of the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by international human rights law. The failure to defend the right of journalists to protect their sources undermines investigative journalism and the public interest.
"The UN has recommended that journalists should only be obliged to reveal sources in exceptional circumstances, where there is no other way to obtain the information, and where the public interest clearly over-rides the importance of protecting sources. It is doubtful that this test has been satisfied in this case.
"Simply put, journalists should not be used as an alternative to proper policing and intelligence gathering."
Via Amnesty's website