BBC journalist threatened for working on documentary about Northern Ireland’s mob leader

  • 09 Feb 2021

IFJ extends support and solidarity to threatened BBC journalist.

A BBC journalist in Northern Ireland received threats for working on a documentary about alleged connections between Irish mob's leader, Daniel Kinahan, and elite boxing.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland have condemned this attempt to muzzle the press and investigative journalism.

The journalist, whose name hasn't been revealed, works for Panorama, the oldest documentary TV show, which is broadcasted by the BBC since 1953. He was working with the program's team on investigating the role played by Kinahan in the boxing industry for an episode that aired on 1 February. Four days later, the police warned him about an unspecified threat against him.

In 2018, Daniel Kinahan was identified by Irish justice as the head of an international network of drugs and arms smuggling. There is also evidence accepted by the Special Criminal Court in the Republic of Ireland that links his crime group with execution-style murders in the context of feuding. Currently, the mob's leader lives in the United Arab Emirates.

After the threats against him, the journalist and his family are now in hiding, but remain in contact with the NUJ's Irish secretary, Séamus Dooley, who said in an interview that the journalist is "safe and sound and grateful for the many messages of solidarity."

Jo Carr, the BBC's head of current affairs, stated that "the BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press through intimidation."

In a statement published on 5 February, NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said:

"This is a difficult time for the team and their family and we assure them of our full support. Threats against journalists, from whatever source are completely unacceptable and those responsible for the threats cannot be tolerated and will not succeed."

IFJ general secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said:

"We stand in solidarity with the BBC journalist threatened and with all the documentary crew. We reject all forms of violence and intimidation against journalists, by whomever."

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