Forcing Sunday Tribune journalist Suzanne Breen to disclose her sources could put her life at risk, a court in Belfast was told today.
Noirin Hegarty, editor of the Dublin-based title, said she feared for Breen’s life if she was made to disclose the sources of information about the dissident republican group the Real IRA.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is seeking an order for Breen to hand over details of her sources, as well as notebooks, and her computer, as part of an investigation into the murders of two soldiers at the Massereene Barracks in Antrim in March.
The Real IRA admitted responsibility for the killings in a telephone call to Ms Breen, who has also interviewed one of the dissident group’s members.
The Sunday Tribune reported on its website today that Hegarty told the Belfast court that Breen would become unemployable if she agreed to the police demands.
Breen herself told the court that she had been told anonymously that her life would be in immediate danger if she conceded to police demands and that she would be treated as a so-called “legitimate target”.
Police have already given evidence to Belfast Recorder Tom Burgess in the case – but that hearing was in secret, with Breen and her legal team excluded from the court.
The Sunday Tribune and the National Union of Journalists, of which Breen is a member, have been campaigning for her to keep her sources confidential.
A petition of more than 5000 signatures has been supported by senior journalists, writers and lawyers.
Human rights group Amnesty International today wrote to Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward expressing serious concerns about the police’s legal action, which it said put at risk the freedom of the press and investigative journalism.