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Northern Ireland: New video released to raise profile of arrested Belfast journalists

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested after exposing police collusion in Loughinisland massacre

Amnesty has warned that freedom of the press in Northern Ireland is “at risk”

15,000 people send journalists messages of solidarity as new Amnesty video brings case to international audience

Amnesty International has today released a new video to highlight the case of arrested journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney.

The two investigative reporters were arrested last August after working on the documentary ‘No Stone Unturned’ that revealed evidence of state collusion in the killing of civilians in the 1994 Loughinisland massacre. The men are due in court in Belfast on Wednesday morning as part of their judicial review challenging the police seizure of files and computers from their homes and offices.

Earlier this month, Amnesty launched a campaign in support of the journalists, allowing people to send messages of solidarity and raise concerns regarding freedom of the press in Northern Ireland. More than 15,000 people have already done so. Amnesty is now stepping up its campaign with the release of the new online video to explain the case to a global audience.

Amnesty has warned that freedom of the press in Northern Ireland is “at risk”. Amnesty protestors will gather outside court to hold up banners saying: ‘Journalism is not a crime’.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“The arrest of journalists who expose official corruption should be a ‘canary in the coal mine’ moment.

“When the police are arresting journalists, who expose police collusion in the killing of civilians, then we have a right to be deeply worried.

“This is the sort of thing Amnesty sees in repressive regimes all over the world. We should not be witnessing it in the UK in 2019.

“The arrests of Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey undoubtedly puts press freedom at risk in Northern Ireland.”

Arrested and questioned

Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested on 31 August 2018 in connection with an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act, relating to confidential documents about the police investigation of the murder of six men in a bar in the village of Loughinisland, County Down, in 1994.  An estimated 100 police officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Durham Constabulary raided the journalists’ homes and offices, seizing documents and computers, which the men are fighting to have returned.

A 2016 report from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland found that there had been collusion between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Volunteer Force killers, and that the subsequent police investigation had been undermined by a desire to protect those responsible for the massacre.

The 2017 film, ‘No Stone Unturned’ – directed by Oscar-winning film-maker Alex Gibney – explored the unsolved killings and police investigation in detail, and named one of the alleged killers.

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