European Court Protects Journalists’ Right to Protect Sources

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By: E&P Staff

In an appeal decision issued last week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights unanimously upheld European journalists’ rights to protect sources.

Calling it an affirmation of a commitment to press freedom, a statement issued by the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and World Editors Forum said the decision “guarantees the media’s fundamental right to confidentiality, and has halted the erosion of source protection.”

The Grand Chamber overturned a 2009 decision by the Third Section of the European Court in Sanoma v. the Netherlands, which resulted when the Finnish-owned Dutch magazine publisher was forced to turn over to police a CD containing photos. No warrant was issued, and the press groups say “police applied serious pressure,” even briefly arresting an editor.

The Grand Chamber ruled that it was not for police or prosecutors to compel journalists to reveal their sources.

Among those supporting the appeal were Committee to Protect Journalists, The Associated Press, Reuters, Hearst Corp., The New York Times Co., The Washington Post Co., Bloomberg News, La Repubblica, Condé Nast Publications, National Geographic Society and Time Inc.

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