Belfast Telegraph

UDA issues death threat against journalist in Belfast

By Adrian Rutherford

A UDA death threat against a Northern Ireland journalist has been strongly condemned.

Police have warned the Belfast-based reporter of an imminent risk to their safety from a section of the terror group, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said.

The NUJ said the threat was "a direct result of their reporting on criminal activities associated with that paramilitary organisation".

The reporter has received similar threats from the UDA in the past.

NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley said any threat against a journalist was an attack on the rights of everyone to freedom of expression and of information.

"The NUJ is disturbed to learn of the latest threat against a Belfast-based journalist," Mr Dooley said.

"We understand this is a credible threat of violence, confirmed by the PSNI, and are therefore concerned for the safety of the journalist and those close to him.

"Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work without fear of intimidation or the threat of violence.

"We urge those in positions of influence within the UDA to use their good offices to have the threat withdrawn. The NUJ has offered support and assistance to the journalist under threat and will always support members placed under threat."

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: "Paramilitary activity and threats of this nature have absolutely no place in our society.

"To seek to cause fear is something that should belong to Northern Ireland's past.

"Society upholds freedom of the Press. Nobody should feel intimidated as a result of the work they do."

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: "Reports that a Northern Ireland journalist has been threatened by members of the UDA should and must be condemned by all right-minded people."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said political unionism must stand up to UDA criminality.

"The UDA threat against this journalist should be lifted immediately," he said.

"This latest threat demonstrates once again the UDA's contempt for democracy, the peace process, law and order and to those exposing their brutal criminality.

"This threat must be challenged head-on by all political leaders as there is no place in this society for the UDA or any other paramilitary group."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said: "Such threats are not merely an attack on one journalist, they are an attack on the freedom of the Press in Northern Ireland.

"All over the world, journalists are arrested, threatened and killed for working in the front line of defending freedom of expression.

"Guaranteeing freedom of expression must be a cornerstone of Northern Ireland as a peaceful and just society."

The PSNI said: "We do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.

"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."

Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan was shot dead in September 2001 by the LVF.

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