Ontario appeals court: reporter must turn over communications with accused terrorist
Ontario appeals court: reporter must turn over communications with accused terrorist

The Court of Appeal for Ontario [official website] on Wednesday affirmed [decision] a ruling requiring a Vice Media [official website] reporter to turn over materials and communications used to write three stories regarding an accused terrorist in 2014. Ben Makuch communicated with and wrote three published stories regarding Farah Shirdon, who was believed to have moved to the Middle East in March 2014 to join the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST archives]. Shirdon confirmed this and threatened attacks on Canada in the articles. The police sought these communications as part of their investigation into serious crimes, and a trial court in February 2015 issued a production order calling for any evidence of communications between the two men. The Court of Appeal determined this was appropriate in part based on the large public interest in effective investigations of serious crimes [Canadian Press report]. Makuch and Vice have fought the production order since the initial issuance, and a number of civil liberty and media groups supported their positions [press release]. Vice also announced plans to continue their fight against the decision [CBC report].

Journalists have recently been facing a range of issues worldwide. In February, protesters in Malta argued that a draft bill proposed by the government that aims to regulate online news could inhibit freedom of speech [JURIST report]. In September a teen blogger in Singapore was sentenced to six weeks [JURIST report] in jail for “wounding religious feelings” after he pleaded guilty to posting comments on the internet criticizing Christianity and Islam. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] in July 2016 condemned [JURIST report] Turkey’s decision to issue arrest warrants for 42 journalists following the coup attempt in the country. In June 2016, an Egyptian court began the trial of a journalist union leader as well as two board members who were charged with spreading false news and harboring wanted reporters [JURIST report]. In November 2015, UN rights experts stated [JURIST report] that authorities in Iran should cease arresting, prosecuting and harassing journalists and online activists, and should provide a safe space for freedom of expression.