Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release on 30 November of two journalists from the daily De Telegraaf, Bart Mos and Joost de Haas, placed in custody on 27 November 2006 by a court in The Hague.
The court ruled that the “journalists had the right to be exempted (from the obligation of giving evidence), now that state security is not at risk”.
The two journalists had been summoned to give evidence in the trial of a former Dutch intelligence officer accused of leaking information about a drug trafficker, Mink Kok. The judge ordered them detained after they refused to reveal their sources for a series of articles about the drug trafficker. They were held at Scheveningen jail in the Hague suburbs.
De Haas was quoted on the Telegraaf website as saying that he was relieved at the outcome. He added that the two journalists had been harassed by other prisoners during their detention.
“We welcome this decision. Nevertheless we regret that the same judge who released them, saw fit to place them in detention three days earlier, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We continue to urge the inclusion of the protection of journalists' sources in European legislation and call on the judicial authorities to protect this right.”
28 November 2006
Trial judge detains two journalists for refusing to reveal source
Reporters Without Borders voiced “surprise and concern” at yesterday's decision by a court in The Hague to detain two journalists with the daily De Telegraaf, Bart Mos and Joost de Haas, for revealing to identify their sources during a trial in which they appeared as witnesses.
“This decision was disproportionate,” the press freedom organisation said. “If journalists are forced to reveal their sources, their sources will soon dry up. We hope Mos and De Haas will be quickly released and will not be prosecuted.”
Reporters Without Borders said the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of their sources must be enshrined in European legislation as a matter of urgency, based above all on article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”
The organisation added: “The confidentiality of sources is the cornerstone of press freedom and is indispensable for investigative journalism. Without it, the media could not play the role that is essential in any properly-functioning democracy.”
Mos and De Haas were called to testify in the trial of a former Dutch intelligence officer who is accused of leaking information about a drug trafficker, Mink Kok. De Telegraaf had cited unidentified intelligence officials as its source for information about Kok. The judge ordered Mos and De Haas placed in detention after they refused to say if the former official on trial was their source.
They can be held for 48 hours, after which another court will have to decide whether to extend their detention for up to 12 days. They are being held in Scheveningen prison in suburb of The Hague.