Journalists’ leaders from across Europe have protested to the Danish Government about two journalists who face prosecution because they blew the whistle on advice being given to politicians over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Two journalists from Berlingske Tidende have been charged because last year they published the contents of confidential documents leaked by a civil servant in the Danish Defence Intelligence Service.
The documents advised the Government on whether Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and were issued while Denmark was debating whether to go to war with Iraq.
Last weekend the European Federation of Journalists unanimously agreed to call on Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to raise concerns about the case.
“This question has been at the centre of public debate on the crucial matter of whether the war in Iraq was justified,” said Arne KË†nig, newly elected chairman of the EFJ. “This is information of great public concern. The journalists have done an important service to the quality of the debate in Denmark and it is appalling that they should be charged.”
The EFJ’s letter to Rasmussen said journalists had a duty to publish such material unless there was a clear and increased danger to the safety and welfare of public or private interests.
“This is one case where this professional duty is evident and where no legal impediment to free journalism is justified,” it said.
If the journalists are prosecuted, the EFJ will support taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.