Belfast Telegraph

Republican Facebook page 'targeted' police

By Deborah McAleese

Facebook users who shared information about PSNI officers on a republican site could face arrest.

The social networking site page Crown Forces Watch asked group members to post images of officers and share information on PSNI operations, sparking serious concerns over their safety.

The site was shut down yesterday after police became aware of its contents.

Those who encouraged and shared information could be arrested under the Counter-Terrorism Act for passing on details likely to be of use to terrorists.

Chairman of the Police Federation Terry Spence said that contributors should be arrested, claiming that publishing pictures was a bid to "target officers for murder".

He said: "This is a very serious matter and I immediately contacted the Chief Constable's office to explain our great concern. I asked for the Chief Constable to immediately close down the page and take immediate action against those who set it up."

It is unclear if the site was removed by Facebook or by those responsible for setting it up.

Before it was shut down the administrator of the page wrote "this group was to report harassment only, not to endanger life as has been reported".

Republicans living in the dissident strongholds of east Tyrone and south Derry posted images and personal details of officers on the page, claiming the pictures showed officers "harassing republicans".

Creators of the site called for the surveillance of security forces in their efforts to oppose "British oppression".

They encouraged others to post more images and information about other police operations in the country.

Mr Spence added that the page was an obvious attempt to endanger lives.

"I am in no doubt this information will be used in attempts to target police officers," he explained.

"To gather information which is likely to be of use to terrorists is very clearly a very serious criminal offence."

The PSNI is investigating a republican Facebook group set up to gather information on police officers.

The Crown Forces Watch group was removed from the social networking site after the PSNI became aware of its contents.

The Police Federation warned that details gathered on officers could put their lives at risk.

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