Northern Ireland: deep concern at arrest of investigative journalists
Amnesty International has said it is deeply concerned at the reported arrest of two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland.
Journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, who worked on the documentary film ‘No Stone Unturned’ about the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, have been arrested and are being questioned by police in Belfast.
The arrests are reportedly in connection with the alleged theft of confidential documents from the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland relating to the police investigation of the shooting of six men in a County Down bar in 1994.
A 2016 report from the Ombudsman found that there had been collusion between the police and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) killers, and the police investigation had been undermined by a desire to protect those responsible for the massacre, though these findings were subsequently challenged in court.
The 2017 film, ‘No Stone Unturned’, on which the journalists had worked, explored the unsolved killings and police investigation in detail and named one of the alleged killers.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:
“The arrests of two widely respected investigative journalists and the seizure of documents and computer equipment is of deep concern to Amnesty International. Journalists must be free to investigate and expose issues of public concern. Few subjects could be of more significant public concern than the mass shooting of civilians and the alleged collusion of the police in assisting those responsible to evade justice.
“These arrests will send a worrying message to other journalists in Northern Ireland and could have a chilling effect on legitimate investigative reporting.”