The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists, has vehemently condemned the raid on the house of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody and seizure of his equipment by the San Francisco police on May 10.
The police barged into Carmody’s house using a sledgehammer, handcuffed him and seized his camera, laptop, phones and other personal equipment while executing a judicial warrant. The journalist was handcuffed for nearly six hours as police officers went through his house collecting notebooks and his equipment.
Carmody has been under pressure from the San Francisco police to reveal the source who gave him information into the death of the San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. The journalist had secured a leaked police report about Adachi’s death on February 22 and produced a news report, which he gave to three television station in San Francisco about the death of Adachi and
In April, two police officers had visited his house requesting him to reveal his sources, which Carmody had refused. Then came the raid on May 10 with some 10 police officers breaking into his house looking for information.
“The high-handed behaviour of San Francisco police is highly deplorable. Arms-twisting a journalist to reveal the sources is a mockery of California Shield Law and in breach of the First Amendment”, IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said. “The police treated Carmody as a criminal handcuffing him for six hours and took away his equipment, which is a gross violation of his rights.”
The California Shield Law protects journalists from having to disclose “confidential sources” or surrender “unpublished information”, such as notes, tapes and photographs.
Furthermore, the raid on Carmody’s office from where he runs a small news agency is a violation of the federal Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits law enforcement agencies to search a newsroom or seize journalists’ equipment.