Belfast Telegraph

Media freedom primary rule in photos case: judge

A District Judge has said that the “freedom of the media is the primary rule” in the case of a 53-year-old man who is charged with committing two offences contrary to the Northern Ireland Terrorism Act.

Judge Barney McElholm made the comment at a preliminary enquiry at the Magistrates’ Court in Londonderry.

The defendant, Gerard Francis O' Donnell from Strangford Park in Foyle Springs, is charged with making and possessing digital photos and recordings which may be of use to terrorists between March 2008 and June 2010.

Asked if he had anything to say in answer to the charges, the defendant replied “not at this stage”. Applying for two defence counsel, solicitor Paddy MacDermott said the complicated and complex issues involved “the freedom of the Press and the freedom to use the internet”.

It’s understood the case involves photos and video of police officers taken while they were on duty which were then posted on the internet.

Mr McElholm described the issues as “novel” and added while the case might also involve “security matters”, he believed the freedom of the media was the primary rule.

O’Donnell was granted bail.

Belfast Telegraph

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