Prosecutor missteps with another journalist's sources

On Thursday the Public Prosecutor admitted to a third case in which a journalist's right to protect his sources was not respected. The Prosecutor in Rotterdam retrieved a journalist's telephone data in an effort to find his sources. This happened in October 2017 and February 2018 in a criminal investigation into a police officer suspected of leaking information to the journalist, reports.

The journalist involved is photo journalist Joey Bremer of media agency MediaTV, which provides photos and videos to NOS, RTL and AD. He was informed by the Public Prosecutor on Thursday afternoon. Bremer is shocked and is considering legal action against the police and judicial authorities, MediaTV reports.

According to the Public Prosecutor, the investigation of the telephone data was immediately stopped when it became known that the data came from a journalist. The data in question was destroyed, the Prosecutor said. But the journalist as not informed about this at the time.

In June it was revealed that the Public Prosecutor in Oost-Brabant requested the call records of a reporter from Brabants Dagblad. Earlier this week it came out that the Public Prosecutor in Amsterdam eavesdropped on a conversation between a journalist and his source, without following the proper procedures, in the investigation into the murder of Reduan B., brother of key witness Nabil B. 

In response to these missteps, the Prosecutor looked into previous cases. The Prosecutor is suggesting that the mistake made by the Rotterdam Public Prosecutor came to light during this investigation, according to 

Last month, the Board of Attorney Generals already asked the Public Prosecutor whether there are any more cases where the right to protect sources was not respected. But it was not until Thursday, after a new appeal from the Board, that the Prosecutor revealed the Rotterdam case. According to Gerrit van der Burg, chairman of the Board of Attorney Generals, it is now clear that there are no other similar cases.

The Dutch association of journalists NVJ and the association of chief editors NGvH call this new incident "unacceptable", according to the newspaper. They demand an investigation into the "culture within the police and judiciary that apparently makes it possible to so easily start investigations into sources of journalists". "Protection of sources is crucial for the safe and effective functioning of journalism and for a properly functioning constitutional state", the NVJ and NGvH said in a statement.