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Daily Archives: June 25, 2007

Australian journalists convicted for refusing to reveal source

 Image Two Australian journalists were yesterday convicted and fined for refusing to name a source in a landmark case which has alarmed the country's media.
Herald-Sun newspaper reporters Michael Harvey and Gerard McManus had pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to name the source of a damaging expose of a government plan to cut benefits to war veterans.
The story's publication in 2004 prompted a backbench revolt and the decision to refuse a proposed 500-million-dollar (424,080 US) increase in veterans' entitlements was later overturned.

The Victorian County Court stopped short of jailing Harvey and McManus but they were fined 7,000 dollars (5,940 US) each over their refusal to give evidence at a hearing for an official accused of the leak.
The journalists' union — the Media, Arts and Entertainment Alliance — had protested the case, saying Harvey and McManus were caught up in a government campaign to terrorise whistleblowers.
"It is central to a democracy that journalists are able to report matters without revealing their sources, otherwise all you get is officially authorised press releases from the government," the alliance's Chris Warren told The Australian.
The case had also attracted the attention of federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock who called on the Victorian court to take into account recent federal legislation which is designed to protect reporters who refuse to name sources.
Under the law, which Ruddock has urged the states to adopt, federal judges have the power to excuse journalists from revealing confidential informants.
But in his decision, chief judge Michael Rozenes said the legislation did not cover Victoria and the journalists' professional ethics did not place them above the law.
McManus said despite the convictions, both he and Harvey still believed journalists should not reveal their sources.
"We believed and we still believe that to protect sources is paramount in doing our jobs," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Japan opposes talks if NKorea fails to shut reactor

Japan warned yesterday it would oppose high-level talks on North Korea unless Pyongyang met its promises to close its nuclear reactor.
North Korea promised in February to shut down its Yongbyon reactor as the initial step of a six-nation aid-for-disarmament deal. But it has refused to comply due to a long-running row over frozen assets.
"Our top priority is to nail down whether North Korea is completely implementing the initial step," chief government spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference. "Without securing this, we will hold neither six-way talks nor a ministerial meeting of the six nations," Shiozaki said.
US chief negotiator Christopher Hill said on a visit to Japan Saturday that he hoped for six-nation negotiations on disarmament and a first meeting of the countries' foreign ministers both in July.
Hill last week paid a rare visit to the communist state, which said Monday that the row over the frozen assets had finally been settled.
UN inspectors were due back in North Korea on Tuesday for the shutting down of Yongbyon, the source of weapons-making plutonium.
Japan has taken the hardest line in the six-party disarmament talks, which also involve China, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.
Japan has refused to fund February's deal due to the emotionally charged row over Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has campaigned on the abduction row throughout his career, reiterated that Japan would not establish diplomatic relations with North Korea.
"Without solving this issue, we cannot normalise relations. There is no change in this policy at all," Abe told reporters.