The seizure of a BBC journalist’s laptop by Thames Valley Police demonstrates how counter-terrorism laws are being used to constrain free speech.
Newsnight editor Ian Katz has spoken of his concern over the seizure of a BBC journalist’s laptop by police acting under the Terrorism Act.
Secunder Kermani handed over the computer after officers secured a judge’s order, the BBC has confirmed.
They were responding to communications between Kermani and a man in Syria who was publicly identified as an Islamic State extremist.
Police said the laptop, seized after a hearing in August, has been returned.
Police have legal powers to seize information during any inquiries into the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism”, under the Terrorism Act which was introduced in 2000.
Katz said police use of the act to access information shared between journalists and sources could cause problems when reporting about the Islamic State (IS) group.
“While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest,” Katz said.
The news comes less than a month after Thames Valley Police confiscated 150 copies of a student publication from Oxford University’s Freshers’ Fair.
Maybe this time someone in the mainstream media will take notice.