Canadian police spied on journalist
POLICE with the backing of a judge tracked a prominent Montreal journalist’s movements and communications over several months, hoping to identify his sources, a Canadian newspaper reported.
At least 24 surveillance warrants were issued in 2016 for the smartphone of La Presse reporter Patrick Lagace, which allowed police to access his text messages and track him using the device’s global positioning system (GPS), the newspaper said.
“This is unequivocally an attack against the media and the entire journalistic profession,” said Eric Trottier, editor of La Presse, one of Canada’s largest dailies.
The former head of the Montreal police department’s internal affairs division, who was reassigned last week to media relations, acknowledged that the monitoring occurred.
Saying he was not “minimising” the seriousness of this affair, chief inspector Costa Labos said, “I understand that some people may have been offended or disturbed by the fact that their phone was under surveillance, but we must do our job.”
Police wanted to know the reporter’s contacts and whether they may have information about open cases, and who within the police force may be leaking information to the media.
Their methods, however, provoked a rash of criticisms including from senior government officials and fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents exposing the vast scope of US digital intelligence gathering in 2013.
Quebec’s justice minister, Stephanie Vallee, expressed “concern” while reminding of “the importance of a free press in a free and democratic society”. –