TORONTO, March 21, 2017 /CNW/ - The Ontario Court of Appeal is poised to release its decision in the landmark press freedom case of VICE Media Canada Inc. and Ben Makuch vs. Her Majesty the Queen. Makuch is currently facing serious legal consequences owing to his refusal to comply with an RCMP production order. The order sought to obtain chat records between Mr. Makuch and one of his sources, a Canadian man in Syria who is suspected of being a member of the terrorist group Daesh.
The court's decision will be available at 12:00pm, March 22, 2017 at the following location: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/decisions_index/new_releases.htm
In February of 2015 the RCMP presented VICE News reporter and Cyberwar host Ben Makuch with a production order to turn over all communications between himself and Farah Shirdon, a source who had allegedly joined the Islamic State and who was later charged in absentia by the RCMP for having engaged in terrorism-related activity.
The Ontario Superior Court upheld the production order in March 2016. VICE Media's appeal of that decision was heard in court in February 2017. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), together with a coalition of media and free expression organizations, intervened in the appeal. A legal intervention is a procedure that allows an outside party to join ongoing litigation, usually because the outcome of the case will affect the rights of others besides the original parties.
VICE's notice of appeal, argues that the ruling, if not overturned, will have a "detrimental chilling effect on the practice of journalism in Canada" by undermining the independence of news outlets and compromising the trust between journalists and their sources. Those on the wrong side of the law will be much less likely to speak to journalists if they think all their communication is at risk of being turned over to the police, closing a crucial source of public information.
"This will be a precedent-setting case," said Tom Henheffer, Executive Director of CJFE. "This isn't just about getting one journalist out of a bad situation in the courts. This is about creating a lasting precedent for how these cases will be handled and protecting everybody's right to know. This is why we intervened in this case with a broad civil society coalition and why we're committed to fighting for press freedom no matter the outcome."
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, CJFE promotes a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights.
SOURCE Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
For further information: or to request interviews, please contact: DUNCAN PIKE, CJFE ADVOCACY COORDINATOR, 416 893 2286, DPIKE@CJFE.ORG; CHRIS BALL, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS, VICE MEDIA CANADA, 416-737-9559, CHRIS.BALL@VICE.COM