AMNESTY International has condemned a threat made against a journalist at the Belfast Telegraph newspaper. The newspaper reports that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) made them aware of the threat on Friday 3 May, and that this is the sixth such incident in the past six months.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director, said: “We strongly condemn this latest sinister threat against a journalist in Northern Ireland. That this is the sixth threat in as many months against journalists at a single newspaper group is even more concerning. There is a concerted attempt in Northern Ireland to intimidate journalists to prevent them from doing their jobs – this constitutes a serious and sustained attack on press freedom.

“Journalists in Northern Ireland – particularly those investigating illegal paramilitary and criminal activity – have been operating in a climate of fear for years, facing all-too-regular threats from armed groups. Despite the frequency of such threats, arrests and prosecutions are vanishingly rare. The police have a responsibility to hold those responsible for this intimidation to account and to ensure journalists can do their jobs in safety.”

This is the latest in a series of violent threats, including death threats, made against journalists and their family members in recent years. In September 2001, Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead in Northern Ireland by a loyalist paramilitary group. No one has ever been convicted of his murder. Last week, the opening of the trial of three men over the 2019 murder of journalist Lyra McKee was delayed.

* Source: Amnesty International