Police used terror act to seize laptop of a BBC journalist who interviewed ISIS members
The police used powers under the Terrorism Act to seize the laptop of a young BBC journalist for interviewing alleged ISIS members. Secunder Kermani who is a journalist with BBC’s flagship current affairs programme called Newsnight has not been arrested but the police seized his laptop citing the powers under the Terrorism Act.
The incident has shocked Kermani, and it shocked his BBC colleagues more. Police officers obtained an order from a judge that was served on the BBC and Secunder Kermani, who joined the flagship BBC2 news show early last year and has produced a series of reports on British-born jihadis.
The editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz said: “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.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Police obtained an order under the Terrorism Act requiring the BBC to hand over communication between a Newsnight journalist and a man in Syria who had publicly identified himself as an IS member. The man had featured in Newsnight reports and was not a confidential source”.
Kermani has built a reputation for making contact with Western-born Isis fighters and interviewing them online about their motivations.
The seizure of his material has also alarmed press freedom organisations. Jo Glanville, director campaign group English PEN, said the current “hysteria” around terrorism was greater than in the aftermath of the 9-11 and 7-7 attacks. “If journalists go near something to do with terrorism the police can use the Terrorism Act  to go after their sources.”