Northern Ireland's press freedom at risk, says Amnesty

By agency reporter
March 1, 2019

Freedom of the press in Northern Ireland is “at risk”, Amnesty International has warned, as two investigative journalists face further police questioning today (1 March 2019) related to their award-winning film about state collusion in the killing of civilians.

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested last August after working on the documentary ‘No Stone Unturned’ that revealed new evidence about the 1994 Loughinisland massacre.

Six months on from their arrest, Amnesty has today launched a new campaign in support of the journalists, allowing people around the world to send messages of solidarity and raise concerns regarding freedom of the press in Northern Ireland.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said: “Amnesty is deeply concerned that the arrests of Trevor and Barry, and the seizure of documents and computer equipment, puts press freedom at risk in Northern Ireland.

“The arrest of two of the most widely-respected journalists in Northern Ireland has sent a shiver of fear through the region.

“When the police are arresting journalists who have investigated police collusion in the killing of civilians, rather than the killers and those who helped them get away with murder, people everywhere should be worried.”

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested on 31 August 2019 in connection with an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act, relating to confidential documents about the police investigation of the murder of six men in a bar in the village of Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994.

A 2016 report from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland found that there had been collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Volunteer Force killers, and that the subsequent police investigation had been undermined by a desire to protect those responsible for the massacre.

The 2017 film, ‘No Stone Unturned’ – directed by Oscar-winning film-maker Alex Gibney – explored the unsolved killings and police investigation in detail, and named one of the alleged killers.

In August last year, an estimated 100 police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Durham Constabulary raided the journalists’ homes and offices, seizing documents and computers, which the men are fighting to have returned.

* Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org.uk/

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