So after three days, the two Telegraaf journalists jailed for refusing to reveal their sources have been set free. Their liberation follows widespread condemnation – both at home and abroad – of their imprisonment.
Dutch MPs of every political colour donned badges in support of them. Luckily, the judges have now seen sense. Jailing journalists for refusing to say who passed them information is more befitting of a corrupt dictatorship than a country which prides itself on being a beacon of democracy.
The issue of press freedom came to a head when the duo were called to appear as witnesses in the trial of a former security service worker, accused of leaking secret information to them. Earlier this year, the journalists wrote a string of articles about how security service files on organised crime boss Mink K and on government corruption had fallen into the hands of other underworld characters.
The AIVD states on its website that it will ‘never reveal who passes information on to the AIVD’ and that it will do all it can to protect its sources. Perhaps it should have understood that journalists take the same pledge. The duo have made their point most emphatically. And after all, this was more a case about corrupt secret security staff than national security itself.