It looks like our friends in the Netherlands are trying to catch up with the United Kingdom in terms of the slide towards a Police State, according to Radio Netherlands:
Reporters held for refusing to name source
by Marina Brouwer*
Reporters behind bars - not an everyday occurrence in the Netherlands, yet that's exactly where two journalists from De Telegraaf, the country's biggest selling morning newspaper, have been since Monday this week.
The two men are refusing to disclose who was responsible for supplying them with confidential information from the Dutch AIVD national intelligence and security, and the fact that a court has ordered them to be held in custody until they do, has been labelled as unacceptable by the Dutch journalist community as well as one of the country's European Parliament representatives.
The two journalists are called Joost de Haas and Bart Mos.
"A scandal" is how an editorial on the
front-page of Tuesday's edition of De Telegraaf described the detention of the two journalists.
The paper argues that if two journalists are held against their will in order to force them to reveal their sources, then press freedom is under threat, and it concludes that no one will turn to the media to help bring important issues to the attention of the public if journalists are no longer able to protect those who provide them with the relevant information.
In January this year, the two journalists from De Telegraaf revealed that information held by the AIVD had fallen into criminal hands. The information concerned a notorious Dutch criminal - Robert 'Mink' Kok - and it demonstrated the existence of thriving contacts between him and his criminal associates and the police, which meant, for example, that Kok was able to acquire police files in exchange for large sums of money and the police 'lent' his gang police firearms for use in the performance of 'liquidations'.
This seems like the very definition of a story which is "in the public interest" !
Immediately after the story appeared in the paper, the AIVD decided to keep tabs on the two men and to monitor (bug) their communications in the hope of finding out more about how the information was leaked to them.
This seems like a famliar pattern of bureaucratic behavior.
Perhaps our friends in the Netherlands should also take precautions like those we suggest in our Home Office whistleblowers hints and tips
The intelligence service also filed an official complaint with the police in connection with 'activities endangering the state'. A civil court has since ruled that the bugging must stop, and the process which could have seen the two brought to court to face criminal charges has also been halted.
Here in the UK, a civil court would not be able to make such a ruling, once the magic words "national security"have been uttered.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which is not a normal court, but which is meant to rule on cases of surveillance by the UK intelligence agencies, has never ruled in favour of a complainant.
On Monday 27 November, however, the situation changed once again when the two men were required to testify as witnesses in the trial of a former member of staff of the AIVD who is accused of 'leaking' information. When the two journalists again refused to say who had supplied them with the confidential material, the examining judge decided to have them 'taken hostage', or - in other words - removed to jail until they agree to answer.
Together with a number of other MEPs, Thijs Berman is drafting a resolution calling on all European Union member states to pay serious attention to the need to protect sources and to protect journalists from facing coercion, such as the measure of holding the two De Telegraaf journalists in custody. Mr Berman also intends to do what he can this week to help the two journalists in question. They will be questioned in court again on Wednesday before the court decides whether they are to be released or taken back to jail again.
* RNW Internet translation (tpf)
Even if the journalists are released soon, this must have a chilling effect on investigative journalists, whistleblowers and bloggers.
Just in case you think that,since this is happening in a abroad, it has nothing to do with you, then we suggest that you read upon the European Arrest Warrant, which has now been implement in all European Union countries.
How can we be sure that exactly the same thing would not happen here in the United Kingdom with a similar investigative story ?