In the e-mails to NRK and Dagbladet that came last summer, the sender (one or more) claims to be behind threats and vandalism for which Laila Bertheussen is accused.
Dagbladet published articles about these e-mails. NRK has also mentioned that such e-mails have been received without going into the content.
– Those who have written the e-mail claim to be behind threats and vandalism against Wara’s home. We tried to find out who the sender was and make contact. We said we wanted a meeting, but the sender did not respond, journalist Tormod Strand told the court on Wednesday.
– We told PST about the email, but did not forward it so as not to break the source protection. PST replied that they did not want to comment on details of an ongoing case. After an overall assessment, we chose not to publish anything about the content. The main reason was that we could not identify the sender or senders, Strand said.
It was Bertheussen’s defenders who had summoned the NRK journalist and a journalist from Dagbladet who testified in the trial.
Want emails delivered
Dagbladet’s Steinar Solås Suvatne said they had agreed to meet the sender, but that this did not happen. He said it was Dagbladet that canceled this meeting.
The contact ended in June 2019.
Like NRK, Dagbladet will not state the e-mail address of the sender.
The defenders demand that the journalists state.
– We think it is important when someone takes responsibility and says they are behind it and also provide as detailed information as they do to Dagbladet and NRK. Then it is good to investigate further where it comes from and who did it, says Laila Bertheussen’s defender John Christian Elden to NRK.
The court will decide on Thursday whether they require the information to be disclosed.
Then the editors come to court to defend the source protection.
– We will explain NRK’s views on this in court, and I do not want to go into detail about this now. But it is important for us to emphasize that source protection is crucial for the media to be able to do their job. It is a basic principle in a free society, says Marius Tetlie, who is the editor-in-chief of NRK’s news division.
– Important principles
– The protection of sources and unpublished material are very important principles for the press, this also applies in this case. We will explain our view in court, says news editor Frode Hansen in Dagbladet.
In the e-mails, the sender claims to have eavesdropped on Bertheussen’s home and to have had access to the code for the front door, and that two threatening letters in the case were applied to dog urine. The prosecuting authority believes that the sender – in their eyes Bertheussen – has unique knowledge of the case, and must also be the person behind the threatening events.
Defendants believe the emails can prove Bertheussen’s innocence.
– But it takes a lot for the press to state what they get in from tips and their sources?
– The court must decide on this. They must assess whether the limit is present if you are in a situation where someone is about to be convicted of innocence because others have information that can prove their innocence, Elden answers.
He says they first and foremost want to see all the information that is given, not just what is referenced in Dagbladet. In addition, they require all metadata to be provided – ie information that can make it possible to track down the sender.
– Why do you think it must be handed over?
– There is information that has been given to the media where specific, detailed information has been given from e-mail addresses you are familiar with that can be investigated who they are. It is clearly of great interest to know who the people actually are and who is behind it, says Elden.
The prosecution says they also want the media’s information to be published.
– We will support the petition, even though we understand the press’ source protection, prosecutor Frederik Ranke told NRK.
This is what the law says
Defendants will argue that the Criminal Procedure Act § 125 third paragraph allows for this:
“When important interests in society dictate that the information is provided and it is of significant importance for the resolution of the case, the court may, after an overall assessment, order the witness to state the name. If the author or the source has revealed matters that it was of social importance to make known, the witness can only be required to state his name when there is a special requirement. “
But source protection is something the media holds high.
“Source protection is in many cases crucial for the media to be able to do their job, and conduct critical and revealing journalism,” writes the Norwegian Editors’ Association on the topic.
One of the most famous cases was when filmmaker Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen did not want PST to have access to unpublished material that had been seized in the investigation of Ubaydullah Hussain and a 18-year-old terrorist suspect.
The Supreme Court ruled that Rolfsen’s film project is at the heart of investigative journalism.
The source protection was thus weighed and found heavier than PST’s wishes.