Slap on the writs!

So the NZ police have finally acted against the Fairfax editors and journalists who wrote about the leaked “Urewera” terror case affidavit. The police issued a “warning”, but I can’t really see what the effect of that will be.

Is it supposed to “chill” any enthusiasm the media has for publishing similar details in the future? If so, one would hope that it fails miserably. On the other hand, if the reporters and editors have breached Section 312K of the Crimes Act, why aren’t they being prosecuted?Perhaps part of the answer is that any case to deal with such a prosecution could be more embarrassing to the cops than to the defendants. It’s not clear who initially leaked the affidavit to the Dominion Post journalist Phil Kitchen, but word on the street is that it was the cops who were trying to bolster their very weak case that the so-called “Urewera 17” should face terrorism charges.

According to a story in Scoop from December last year, more than 1100 people had read the affidavit – all of them breaching the same section of the Crimes Act. Or so you might think.

The warning letters have received some coverage over the last couple of days, but it seems, no one’s making much of an issue of it.

Of course, Dom Post editor Tim Pankhurst and Fairfax are still facing charges over the front page stories published last year. I can’t help wondering if the Solicitor General (who’s brought these charges) doesn’t talk to the police (who issued only a “warning”).

If you still haven’t read the affidavit, a simple search will find several paths to online versions. It’s worth reading because it does highlight some police surveillance methods, but it also makes you think about the strength of the police case.

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