The IFJ, the world’s largest journalists’ organisation, today has expressed concern over revelations that an undercover Australian police officer posed as a freelance journalist in order to obtain an arrest.
“This is an unacceptable interference in journalism that puts reporters at risk” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “If the police pose as reporters, can anybody trust a real journalist when they come asking questions ?”
The IFJ says “for journalists to be able to practice independent investigative journalism, they need the good faith and trust of the public.
“Police posing as journalists threatens the integrity and independence of the media, and in extreme cases, may even put journalists’ lives in danger”.
The IFJ is supporting the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and its call for both federal and state police to respect the independence of the media and to repudiate their action”.
On 19 July 2004, a Sydney court heard testimony from prosecutor Desmond Fagan on the details surrounding the arrest of Seky “Zak” Mallah.
On 30 December 2003, Mallah, 21, was arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against an Australian Government building, after meeting with an agent posing as a freelance journalist. According to Fagan’s testimony, Mallah had met with the agent on three separate occasions to negotiate the sale of the exclusive rights to the tape detailing “his final message” outlining his intentions and motivations for destroying the ASIO building.
The IFJ has written to the Prime Minister of Australia, expressing its concern over the incident, and calling on the government to respect the independence of the media.
“Journalists’ must be able to independently gather news. This can undermine democracy and put journalists at risks”, said White.
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries