Reporter ordered to hand over story materials

Supreme Court of Canada

In what's been described as a "dark day for press freedom,'' the Supreme Court of Canada has ordered a Vice Media reporter to give material he gathered for stories about an accused terrorist to the RCMP.

In a case that pitted press freedoms against the investigative powers of police, the court ruled unanimously that the state's interest in prosecuting crime outweighed the media's right to privacy in gathering the news.

Organizations representing Canadian journalists decried the decision as a setback that imperils their work.

Martin O'Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, a union that represents over six-thousand media workers, says police can't expect journalists to do their work for them.

Philip Tunley, a lawyer for Vice, told the high court there should be clear protections for journalists when enforcement agencies come knocking.

Federal lawyer Croft Michaelson told the hearing there was "no merit'' to criticisms of the legal framework in place for deciding on police access to media materials.