Nothern Ireland AP.jpg
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers confront U.K. loyalists as they try to force their way into Belfast City Hall in 2012. Police arrested two journalists in relation to allegedly stolen confidential documents about a 1994 massacre. (AP/Peter Morrison)

CPJ demands release of journalists arrested over documents in Northern Ireland

August 31, 2018 12:21 PM ET

New York, August 31, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on police in the United Kingdom to immediately release producer Trevor Birney and journalist Barry McCaffrey, who were arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential documents today, according to the Belfast Telegraph and other news reports.

"Investigative journalists are not thieves. They play an important role in uncovering facts and keeping the public informed," said CPJ's Europe and Central Asia research associate, Gulnoza Said. "Authorities in the U.K., which is supposed to be a pillar of the free press, should immediately release journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey,"

The Belfast Telegraph reported that the two men were arrested for allegedly stealing documents related to a Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation into the shooting murders of six men at a Loughinisland bar in 1994. Birney and McCaffrey worked on a documentary about the killings, "No Stone Unturned," which was released in 2017.

Police said the documentary featured information found in confidential materials, which they claimed had been stolen, according to news reports. The Press Association quoted a police spokesman as saying that the theft of the documents "potentially puts lives at risk." Reached by phone, the office of the Police Service of Northern Ireland declined to provide CPJ with further comment.

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