Thursday, 11 June 2009
Suzanne Breen: Death threat by Real IRA
Suzanne Breen (above) told the High Court in Belfast today that her life had been threatened by the Real IRA.
MediaGuardian reports that The Sunday Tribune journalist said she had received a warning about the price she would pay for passing on information.
A contact connected to the Real IRA had told her: "You know what co-operation with the PSNI means." This message, she said, could only represent a death threat to her and her family.
She said she was not prepared "to place my life at risk and that of my 14-month-old child and my partner".
Breen is resisting an application by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for source material related to stories she has written about the Real IRA.
Last month a judge said he was "minded" to grant the PSNI application to force her to hand over the material.
Breen's legal team told the court her right to life under the European convention on human rights had to be respected. Among journalists who are giving evidence on her behalf are The Guardian's Roy Greenslade, John Ware of Panorama, Alex Thomson of Channel 4 and the Sunday Times's Liam Clarke.
According to the BBC, Ware told the court there was a difference between the Provos and the Real IRA.
"These guys are the Taliban of the republican movement, and we need to be clear about that," he claimed.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, handed over a petiton supporting Suzanne Breen's right to protect her sources to the Northern Ireland Office in London today.
She said: "This legal action is an attempt to coerce Suzanne into becoming an informer for the state - threatening her journalistic impartiality and putting her life in danger.
“Impartial journalists are a force for democracy and peace. Impartial journalism will help to build trust between communities in Northern Ireland.
“We urge the Secretary of State to ensure that all legal threats are lifted from Suzanne. It is not in the public interest or the interests of the British government for this case to continue."
Judge Tom Burgess, the Recorder for Belfast, reserved judgment on the police application and indicated he will give his ruling early next week.
Pic: Jon Slattery