CJFE Condemns Tape Seizure

Wednesday, November 6, 2002
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) condemns the decision by Toronto police to use a warrant to seize raw news footage from the CTV program "W-5" earlier this week. "This move imperils free expression and press freedom in Canada," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said, adding that CJFE fully endorses CTV's decision to challenge the warrant in court. "It is a threat to the public's right to receive information unfiltered by police. "Journalists work to inform the public, not to provide police with free investigative services -- services they're fully capable of providing on their own." At issue is an interview recorded by W-5 in jail with Salim Danji, awaiting trial in connection with a case of alleged investment fraud. Police seized tapes Monday of the entire 1 1/2-hour interview, which has not yet been aired. Police had not seen the interview and so couldn't know what was in it. But they obtained the warrant by telling a judge the material could be helpful in their investigation. "This is a fishing expedition, pure and simple," Ruimy said. "And it endangers the future ability of journalists to gather material because sources could well conclude that any interviews they give to journalists will end up in the hands of police." CJFE notes that police forces across Canada, with the support of the courts, have agressively sought a half-dozen times in the last two years to seize video tapes, notes, photos and other research materials collected by journalists. This suggests police forces have come to regard the media as their investigative adjunct; police may be finding it easier to grab media research than to do their own. CJFE is an association of more than 400 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or e-mail: [email protected] For more information, contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or e-mail: [email protected]

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