Journalists and press freedom campaigners have criticized the police after the laptop of a BBC journalist was seized under Britain’s counter-terrorism laws.
Secunder Kermani, a reporter for the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight, had his laptop taken away over his communications with a source within the militant group Islamic State.
Mr Kermani, who joined Newsnight in 2014, has reportedly extensively on the terror group and radicalization in the UK.
According to reports, police used special powers granted them under the Terrorism Act to seize Mr Kermani’s laptop earlier this year.
The editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, said on Wednesday: “While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest.”
Jo Glanville, director of the campaign group English PEN, told the Independent there was “hysteria” around terrorism which was greater than in the aftermath of the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks.
She added: “If journalists go near something to do with terrorism, the police can use the Terrorism Act  to go after their sources.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Police obtained an order under the Terrorism Act requiring the BBC to hand over communication between a Newsnight journalist and a man in Syria who had publicly identified himself as an IS member. The man had featured in Newsnight reports and was not a confidential source.”