Journalists spend third night in jail

Two journalists who have been in jail since Monday for defying a court order and refusing to reveal their sources have spent another night in prison after a court in The Hague failed to reach a decision on their case. The court is expected to rule today (Thursday)

Thousands of people have come out in support of Joost de Haas and Bart Mos, who wrote a series of articles for the Telegraaf newspaper based on contacts at the secret service AIVD.
The stories revolved around links between crime bosses and government officials and revealed that AIVD files had been sold to notorious underworld leaders. The journalists have refused to say who passed on the secret information, arguing that this would deter other sources from coming forward.
In an open letter to the judges published in Wednesday’s Telegraaf, they said that a free press can only function if people are prepared to pass on sensitive information to journalists. ‘Your decision to remand us in custody threatens the free press. We do not want to live in a society where the media are unable to do their jobs,’ they wrote.
MPs from all parties have condemned the arrests, as have international journalists’ organisations. Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende declined to comment directly on the case but said press freedom was something to be cherished. Labour (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos said he was extremely concerned, while the Liberals pledged to raise the issue in parliament.
Around 60 journalists staged a demonstration outside the court on Wednesday.

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