VICE launches new legal battle in fight to protect journalist’s communications

Vice Media reporter Ben Makuch, who is based in New York.

VICE Media Canada’s fight to protect the communications of one of its journalists isn’t over.

Despite a November ruling from The Supreme Court of Canada (SCOC) ordering VICE Media reporter Ben Makuch to turn over the notes of his conversations with an alleged ISIS member to RCMP, the media company is heading back to court.

VICE is asking an Ontario court to revoke or amend the previous court order, based on new documents submitted Tuesday indicating that Farah Shirdon was killed during an airstrike in Iraq in July 2015.

VICE Media’s application argues that the RCMP and Crown can’t prosecute a dead person and thus “due to this material change in circumstances since the Production Order was issued, the Production Order is now moot and unenforceable.”

The original Production Order followed a series of articles Makuch wrote about Shirdon in 2014, and was sought by the RCMP on the basis it needed the reporter’s notes and communications via Kik messenger to properly carry out an investigation of the former Calgary man.

While passed last October, Canada’s new Journalistic Sources Protection Act doesn’t apply in the case because the facts arose before the legislation came into force.

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