A London judge last week ordered two men charged with breaking Britain's Official Secrets Act to appear again at London's Bow Street magistrates court on Jan. 10. |
Civil servant David Keogh, 49, appeared on a charge of passing a document to Leo O'Connor, who formerly worked for a British Member of Parliament. Keogh was charged with an offense under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act relating to "a damaging disclosure" by a civil servant of information relating to international relations, between April 16 and May 28 last year.
Keogh and O'Connor allegedly leaked a memo to the press that stated a discussion took place in which British Prime Minister Tony Blair dissuaded U.S. President George W. Bush from bombing the offices of Al-Jazeera in Qatar.
London tabloid the Daily Mirror published a story that referred to the alleged memo that mentions the United States' intentions to bomb the Arabic media outlet.
O'Connor, 42, was charged under Section 5, which relates to receiving and disclosing the information. He indicated he intended to plead not guilty; Keogh did not say how he intended to plead.
More details can be found at Independent Online.
U.K. journalists are alarmed that the Official Secrets Act can be used in this way by a government that also introduced an Act for Freedom of Information. For example, Boris Johnson, a Conservative MP and editor of the Spectator, has undertaken to publish the memo if it becomes available to him.
Q: I know you've been asked before about the so-called Al-Jazeera memo, but Europeans are making quite a big deal about it. Can you assure them that even if the president did say when he was elected said he was doing that in jest?Outside the United States, media interest on this issue has gone beyond Europe, as any search on Google News will demonstrate.
On Friday, Dan Froomkin reminded readers of the Washington Post of his initial thoughts at the time of the Daily Mirror report. Scott McClellan wrote in an email, "We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response."
The next day Froomkin predicted in his column that "nothing arouses White House reporters more these days than a non-denial denial", then adding, "But I apparently overestimated the mainstream press corps' baloney detectors."
Froomkin continued: "And where were the follow-up questions? Nobody in the briefing room pursued the issue any further, and nobody even said one word about Al-Jazeera at yesterday's briefing. By contrast, the corps was downright dogged yesterday when it came to rooting out the details of Bush's summons to jury duty in Crawford. Now there's a big story."
CBS News has republished an article from The Nation:
"Nothing puts the lie to the Bush Administration's absurd claim that it invaded Iraq to spread democracy throughout the Middle East more decisively than its ceaseless attacks on Al-Jazeera, the institution that has done more than any other to break the stranglehold over information previously held by authoritarian forces, whether monarchs, military strongmen, occupiers or ayatollahs," the article stated.
The editors of The Nation claim they would be ready to publish the details of the memo if it were made available to them.
"Because if a president who claims to be using the U.S. military to liberate countries in order to spread freedom, then conspires to destroy media that fail to echo his sentiments, he does not merely disgrace his office and soil the reputation of his country. He attacks a fundamental principle, freedom of the press -- particularly a dissenting and disagreeable press -- upon which that country was founded."
The Official Secrets Act creates a slightly different situation for the U.K. press, but it is rarely used and has to be tested in law.
2005/12/04 오전 1:57
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