Wellington Scoop

Troubling … harrowing … intimidation …

Last week’s ten-hour police search of Nicky Hager’s Wellington home, with the seizure of papers, phones and computers, has correctly been branded as intimidation, with troubling implications.

Gordon Campbell says the search was really about intimidating journalists and anyone who co-operates with them, if their work happens to embarrass the government.

We’ve good reason to feel concerned about the politicization of our security agencies and Police. The ten-hour Police raid on Nicky Hager’s house, the ransacking of his files and seizure of his tools of trade – research files, computers, Ipod, camera etc – is reprehensible, especially when these actions are being directed against someone the Police acknowledge to be a mere “ witness’ in the criminal complaint they are investigating. It looks like petty and vindictive payback for Hager embarrassing the government, and can only lower the public’s estimation of the Police.

And Russell Brown writes that the police seizures will make it more difficult for Hager to work, and for members of his family to go about their business.

What the police absolutely should not have done in a democracy was what they did last Thursday: send five officers to Nicky Hager’s house when they knew he was absent, and have them spend 10 hours doing it over … and then basically dare him to get his possessions and documents back via the courts. Let’s be clear here: Hager is not the accused. He is a witness. And the implications of what the police have done are very, very troubling.

Acting Labour leader David Parker said legal authorities must respect the right of Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material.

We are concerned that an arm of the state appears to be being used against Mr Hager while nothing appears to be being done about the wrongdoing he exposed. A 10-hour search of the family home would be harrowing for anyone. Nicky Hager was doing what the fourth estate ought to do and Police need to take care to protect his rights, and to avoid the appearance of intimidating the media.

When Nicky Hager revealed the search he said:

… the police actions are dangerous for journalism in New Zealand. It matters to all people working in the media who could similarly have their property searched and seized to look for sources.

And Mandy Hager described the search:

I observed the police as they searched – polite and respectful (and slightly sheepish) – clearly strings pulled from above

A fund to help pay Nicky Hager’s legal expenses has so far raised $32,000. You can donate here….

NZ Herald: Intimidatory overreaction – not a good look for the police