Thursday 11 June 2009

Guardian leader praises Suzanne Breen

A leader in The Guardian today is "In praise of Suzanne Breen", the Sunday Tribune journalist due in a Belfast court for refusing to hand over source material realted to stories about the real IRA.
It says: "Suzanne Breen is not the first journalist in Northern Ireland to be threatened with jail for protecting her sources. The same stunt was pulled with another Sunday Tribune journalist, Ed Moloney, and it failed after a long legal battle.
"But she is the first journalist to be pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), a force supposed to have learned the lessons of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. When judging Ms Breen, who appears in court in Belfast today, it is all too easy to muddy already dark waters. Feelings run high over the murder of two young sappers at Massereene barracks, for whose deaths the Real IRA claimed responsibility.
"Ms Breen is not protecting the dissident republican whom she interviewed. Nor is she holding information back, all of which the Sunday Tribune published. She is doing no different to what she and generations of other journalists have done in the past. But she is defending her right to live and work as a journalist in Northern Ireland and her right to hear the evidence against her. Under anti-terrorism legislation that evidence remains secret.
"The UN said that journalists should only reveal their sources where the public interest clearly overrode the importance of protecting them. In other words, journalists could not be used as an alternative to proper policing. If the PSNI has its way, there will be no journalists prepared to talk to paramilitaries - there will only be former journalists on witness protection schemes. Ms Breen deserves our support."

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