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Belfast and London protest in support of Suzanne Breen

11 June 2009

Journalists in Belfast and London demonstrated this morning in support of Suzanne Breen, an NUJ member facing jail in Northern Ireland.

Suzanne Breen, Northern Editor of the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune, is sticking to the union's code of conduct by resisting police attempts to obtain confidential source material about the Real IRA.

Petitions in her support were handed in at the Northern Ireland Office in London as the journalist began a court appearance in Belfast. A judgment in the case is expected early next week.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is using anti-terror laws to try to seize phones, computers and notebooks.

Solidarity protests were held at Laganside Courts in Belfast and the Northern Ireland Office in London.

There were more than forty supporters outside the court including Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary, and John Corry, chair of the Northern Ireland Committee, of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU); and Kevin Doherty, secretary of Belfast and District Trade Union Council.

Before the hearing, Suzanne Breen was presented with flowers sent by the NUJ's London Freelance branch.

James Doherty, NUJ President, said in Belfast:

"The support offered to Suzanne has been outstanding. An attack on press freedom with the threat of imprisonment on Suzanne is an attack on us all.
"The NUJ stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Suzanne both outside and inside the court, and journalists stood up for journalism and the right to do our jobs."

Politicians, human rights campaigners, celebrities and well-known journalists have joined forces to support Suzanne.

Investigative journalist John Pilger, Channel 4's Jon Snow, singer Christy Moore and Booker Prize-winning writer Roddy Doyle are among those backing the campaign.

Alex Thomson, of Channel Four News, and Roy Greenslade, media commentator,  were among those giving evidence in her suppport.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ Deputy General Secretary, handed over the petiton in London. She said:

"I am delighted that NUJ members have turned out this morning in support of Suzanne and our code of conduct.
"This legal action is an attempt to coerce Suzanne into becoming an informer for the state – threatening her journalistic impartiality and putting her life in danger.
"Impartial journalists are a force for democracy and peace. Impartial journalism will help to build trust between communities in Northern Ireland.
"We urge the Secretary of State to ensure that all legal threats are lifted from Suzanne. It is not in the public interest or the interests of the British government for this case to continue."

Tags: , code of conduct, suzanne breen, rally, sunday tribune, protection of sources, real ira, psni, ictu, trades councils, london freelance branch, press freedom, channel 4, channel 4 news