Freelance investigative journalist Shiv Malik was accused today of withholding information about a terrorist attack in Pakistan in which 11 people died.
The High Court is today hearing evidence from Greater Manchester Police in a judicial review hearing over a “production order” made under the Terrorism Act, in which police demanded access to Malik’s notes of an interview with terrorism suspect Hassan Butt.
The court heard that Malik planned to publish the testimony of Butt, who allegedly admitted involvement in the fertiliser bomb attack that killed 11 people at the US Consulate in Karachi on 14 June 2002.
Butt allegedly made the admission to Malik during an interview for a forthcoming book, Leaving al-Qaeda.
Acting for the police, Andrew Edis QC said: “The only people he did not want to know about it was the police.”
Edis said that withholding the interview could make Malik liable to prosecution under Section 19 of the Terrorism Act, which requires people with information about terrorist acts to inform the police.
Edis also alleged that Butt was earning £2,800 a month, some of which he was said to be passing on to terrorist organisations.
Yesterday in court, Malik’s counsel, James Eadie QC, argued that Malik should not be subject to an order that would require him to incriminate himself.
But Edis argued today that Malik had “waived” his right not to incriminate himself, which is guaranteed under Article Six of the Human Rights Act, by withholding his knowledge of terrorist acts with the intent to publish them in the future.
Edis said: “Malik is far better informed than the police – he knows what he’s got and the potential to self-incriminate and he knows who is sources are. The police know neither of these things.”
Edis rejected Malik’s counsel’s argument that a series of production orders from Greater Manchester Police, also served on the BBC, Sunday Times, Prospect magazine and CBS News, had a chilling effect on journalism.
He said: “No-one wants a situation where the police are required by their duty to seize documents from broadcasters and newspapers by a warrant.”
Terror suspect Butt was released yesterday afternoon without charge after almost two weeks in custody.
Police are seeking information relating to Butt’s alleged terrorist past and acts he may have committed. Butt was described in court as “essential” to the defence of a man who faces terrorism charges at a trial in September. The man, known only as “A”, cannot be named for legal reasons.
A hearing set to take place tomorrow in Manchester related to the four other media organsiations that have been served with production orders has now been adjourned until the middle of June pending the result of Malik’s judicial review hearing.