Journalists ‘given death threats’ (Belfast Telegraph)

Two Northern Ireland-based journalists have been issued with death threats, a union has claimed.

The threats from loyalist paramilitaries have been condemned by the National Union of Journalists which said reporters should be allowed to work free from intimidation.

“The naked threat of violence by paramilitaries, whatever their background, against members of this union is to be deplored,” said Bob Miller, chairman of the NUJ’s Belfast branch. The union said it was not naming the journalists at this time.

“A free press is a hallmark of a democratic society and anyone making threats against journalists for carrying out their work attempts to undermine democracy as well as press freedom. Threats against journalists from any quarter must stop,” said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary.

The NUJ has also appealed for politicians or community leaders to use any influence to have the threats withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said death threats were taken seriously.

“Police do not discuss the security of any individual. However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk, we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk. No inference should be taken from this,” she said.

In January, during the height of the Union flag crisis, police intercepted a letter containing a bullet that was addressed to a Belfast-based reporter.

Last August the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was thought to have been behind a death threat against another Belfast journalist who was singled out in graffiti daubed on a wall in the city.

In September 2001 Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan was shot dead by the loyalist splinter group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force.


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