Thursday, May 22, 2008

UK Police curb press freedom: Writer in legal fight to protect terror notes

Reminds you of the three monkeys - One doesn't speak, one doesn't see and one doesn't hear but the obvious is that you see, you hear and you speak.

In the madness of mind numbing political correctness investigative journalism from mentally sane journalists is more than just important, the freedom of the press is crucial to inform the population of the factual issues and on terrorism and religious fanatism in particular.

From: Daily Telegraph

A respected terrorism expert who is writing a book about a former Islamic jihadist has appeared in court to challenge a police order requiring him to hand over all his source material.

Shiv Malik's lawyer told the High Court his work was "of the highest public importance" and the demand, under anti-terror laws, to disclose the material generated by the project had wider implications for investigative journalism.

"Terrorism is probably the pressing issue of the age," James Eadie, QC, told Lord Justice Dyson, Mr Justice Pitchford and Mr Justice Ouseley sitting in London.

"What makes those who take part in it do so is a subject of the widest public interest, and so is an insight into the reality of what goes on.

"Serious journalism directed at shedding light on those features, drawing on experiences of an individual who has been there, is of the highest public importance."

Leaving al-Qaeda: Inside The Mind Of A British Jihadist has been written in collaboration with its subject, Hassan Butt, a self-confessed former member of the radical group Al-Muhajiroun. He raised funds for extremists and called for attacks on British citizens but renounced terrorism after the London bombings on July 7, 2005.

He was arrested under the Terrorism Act on May 9 but last night he was released without charge.

Greater Manchester Police obtained an order for Mr Malik's book material in March after Mr Butt was referred to by a defendant in a forthcoming criminal trial set for September.

Refusal to comply with the order could lead to contempt of court proceedings and a possible two-year jail sentence for Mr Malik, of Golders Green, north-west London.

A production order had also been made against Mr Malik's publishers, Constable & Robinson, who last month, handed over the manuscript to the police.

Further applications against The Sunday Times, the BBC, CBS News and Prospect Publishing, in relation to material gathered about Mr Butt, are due to be heard at Manchester Crown Court tomorrow.

Mr Eadie told the court: "This is a case about press freedom – the importance of that having long been recognised as vital in a democratic society, and we say this case has important ramifications for that freedom."

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