Norwegian journalist wins a case about protecting sources

Journalist .Cecilie Langum Becker Journalist .Cecilie Langum Becker. Dagens Næringsliv.Photo: Gunnar Lier / Dn Hand-out / NTB scanpix

Journalist, Cecilie Langum Becker, of Dagens Næringsliv newspaper, was fined for refusing to reveal her sources.


Norway violated Article 10 of the human rights convention, stated the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The court has ordered Norway to repay the 30,000 kroner fine charged to Becker for refusing to give up her sources.

Becker said she isn’t surprised.

‘We were absolutely sure we should win,’ she told NTB news.

‘But of course, we are very happy. It’s been a long time for us, and for me,’ she said.

Investigation of DNO-investor
It all started with an article Becker wrote for in 2007 about the company DNO.
The article led to an investigation of an investor in DNO.

Økokrim (the Economic Crime Division) wanted to know who Becker had talked to, but the journalist refused to reveal the source. She was later summoned as a witness in court, but still refused to disclose her sources.

Both Oslo District Court, and Borgarting Court of Appeal, concluded that Becker should have given a testimony. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, but was rejected.

Article 10

The Strasbourg Court was unanimous in its decision that Norway had violated Article 10 of the human rights convention. Article 10 ensures freedom of expression, and the right to receive and disseminate information.

The judgment stated that source protection is not absolute. However, the court considers that source protection must, for several reasons, take precedence to the testimony in this case.

The court stated, inter alia, that Becker did not prevent the investigation, or trial of the DNO Investor. He was judged, even though Becker refused to testify.

It was pointed out that Becker had also not been accused of using illegal journalistic methods.

Important principle in the case

The Norwegian Editorial Association believes the decision from Strasbourg is built on an important principle.

‘If we start to tear up source protection, and do it relatively, and dependent on many circumstances, it will weaken the principle,and it will soon cause more people to be sceptical of contacting, or provide information to the media,’ said Secretary General, Arne Jensen.

Becker told NTB news she is surprised that the prosecutor’s office in Norway, in three courts, should think that she should reveal the source.

‘Økokrim takes note of the decision,’ said State Attorney, Henrik Holm.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today