Sun, Dec 02, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Canada’s top court orders reporter to hand over data

AP, OTTAWA

The Canadian Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a Vice Media reporter must give Canada’s national police force material he gathered for stories about an accused terrorist in a case that pitted press freedoms against the investigative powers of police.

The court said in a 9-0 decision that the state’s interest in prosecuting crimes outweighed the media’s right to privacy in gathering the news.

The ruling made it a “dark day for press freedom,” Vice Media said.

Organizations representing Canadian journalists also decried the decision as setback that imperils their work.

In 2014, reporter Ben Makuch wrote three articles about the involvement of Farah Mohamed Shirdon, formerly of Calgary, Alberta, with the Islamic State group.

Shirdon had left Canada for Turkey in March of that year. A month later, he appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video that turned up on the Internet.

In the video, he tears up his Canadian passport, throws it into a fire and says: “With help from Allah, we are coming to slaughter you.”

Their exchanges in a text messaging service were crucial to the articles.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2015 directed Vice Media and Makuch to provide documents and data relating to communications with Shirdon.

“I am profoundly disappointed in today’s ruling, not just as an appellant in this case or a reporter, but as a citizen of Canada,” Makuch said on Twitter on Friday.

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