BBC: Police used terrorism powers to seize reporter's laptop

AP News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2015 11:44 AM

LONDON (AP) — British police used anti-terrorism laws to seize the computer of a reporter who has interviewed supporters of the Islamic State group, the BBC said Thursday.

The broadcaster said police had obtained an order from a judge under the Terrorism Act "requiring the BBC to hand over communication between a 'Newsnight' journalist and a man in Syria who had publicly identified himself as an IS member."

The BBC said the man had appeared in reports on the "Newsnight" program by journalist Secunder Kermani and was not a confidential source.

"Newsnight" editor Ian Katz said he was concerned that the use counterterrorism powers "to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest."

The police Southeast Counterterrorism Unit said orders under the Terrorism Act "are used proportionately and on a case-by-case basis."

It said the BBC could have challenged the judge's order in a higher court but did not do so.

The unit said the laptop had now been returned to its owner.