Greater Manchester Police has demanded that four media outlets hand over notes of interviews with reformed British Jihadist Hassan Butt after arresting him under the Terrorism Act.
The action comes days before freelance investigative journalist Shiv Malik, who interviewed Butt for a forthcoming book on Islamic extremism, Leaving al-Qaeda, takes his challenge against an identical order to the judicial review in the High Court next week.
The BBC, Sunday Times and Prospect magazine have all been issued with orders under schedule five of the Terrorism Act 2000 and will appear in court in Manchester to oppose the order. They were notified on Friday, giving them three working days to respond.
All three have carried interviews with or articles on Butt – some by Malik – and police have requested all source material, notes and broadcast footage relating to them.
American TV network CBS News has also been issued with an order – its 60 Minutes show interviewed Butt last year.
This afternoon Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ which is financially backing Malik's case, called on journalists to sign a letter of support for him.
It said: 'We are gravely concerned that Greater Manchester Police is attempting to use counter-terrorism legislation to force a journalist to reveal all confidential source material from a book he is currently writing. This legal action poses a serious risk to the future of investigative journalism.
He continued: 'It is particularly worrying that the police are putting these vital functions of an open society in jeopardy, over a case in which the key source has chosen not to hide his identity and has offered to speak openly to the authorities.
'We urge the police to recognise the widely accepted special status of journalists' materials and to withdraw their legal action immediately."
A spokeswoman for GMP said: 'This is part of an ongoing investigation and we are unable to provide further details. However, as with all criminal investigations the police require assistance from people who may have relevant information."