Saturday, December 4

The national security authority is canceling the hunt for Aftenposten’s source. My pleasure.

  • Ina Lindahl Nyrud

    Lawyer, Norwegian Journalists’ Association

  • Dag Idar Tryggestad

    Leader, Norwegian Journalist Team

It is the relationship of trust between the journalist and the anonymous source that helps to ensure access to information that is of social value, the post authors write.

The national security authority is canceling the hunt for Aftenposten’s source. My pleasure.

Debate
This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

This week it became known that the National Security Authority (NSM) is giving up on finding out who has been Aftenposten’s source in the arms export case. My pleasure. In reality, such a source hunt means that the authorities circumvent journalists’ protection of anonymous sources, without going through the courts.

An important human right

In a post on 2 May, Aftenposten was able to reveal that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed arms exports to the Emirates, despite the Foreign Ministry suspecting that the weapons were used for illegal civil war in Yemen. It was a journalistic case of great public interest. The information was taken from a graded document on Norwegian arms exports that Aftenposten had gained access to through an anonymous source.

Both the Office of the Auditor General and the Storting’s Control and Constitution Committee asked former Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) to downgrade the document. She responded instead by initiating a supervisory case at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is despite the fact that anonymous sources’ ability to communicate freely with journalists is an important human right. The European Court of Human Rights has emphasized this a number of times.

NSM has now called off the search for Aftenposten’s source.

A necessary protection

It is the relationship of trust between the journalist and the anonymous source that helps to ensure access to information that is of social value. It is not sufficient that the source himself has asked to remain anonymous. Journalists must make a concrete promise. Journalists’ source protection stands just as strong, even if the source should choose to stand out. The source protection will give citizens an opportunity to report on issues worthy of criticism, among other things.

It must be forbidden to investigate who are journalists’ anonymous sources

From a societal perspective, protection is necessary to obtain information that would otherwise remain unknown.

It does not help that a source has confidence that the journalist will not reveal or be ordered by the court to reveal the person’s identity, if there is a risk that the authorities through investigations can still reveal it.

Source protection must be strengthened

Sweden is the country in Europe that has given the protection of anonymous sources the strongest protection. In Swedish law, it is generally forbidden to conduct surveys to find an anonymous source. In 2015, therefore, a security director in the Swedish National Insurance Agency and a manager of a municipal senior center were convicted of investigating who was the anonymous source of media. A professor at the University of Gothenburg was convicted of the same in 2017.

The arms export case is a good example of the need to strengthen source protection, according to the press organizations wishes.

It must be forbidden to investigate who are journalists’ anonymous sources. It is all the potential informants that need to be protected.

Not only for their own sake, but also for the good of society.


Reference-www.aftenposten.no

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