Media Defence Leads Intervention at European Court to Protect Journalistic Sources

Media Defence Leads Intervention at European Court to Protect Journalistic Sources

MLDI led a coalition of several interveners to urge the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to recognise enhanced protection for journalistic sources.

The Media Legal Defence Initiative worked with the applicants’ lawyers and led a coalition of interveners in the case of Sanoma v. the Netherlands, before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

Our intervention urged the Grand Chamber to overturn an earlier judgment by a lower chamber at the Court which had found that police did not need judicial authorisation to compel evidence from media.

We argued that this set a dangerous precedent. The Grand Chamber agreed with our submissions and unanimously overturned the earlier judgment, holding that journalistic materials enjoy enhanced protection from search and seizure.

“This ruling was an acid test for the court and for media freedom across Europe,” said Geoffrey Robertson QC, counsel for a coalition of intervening organizations. “It sets a high benchmark for protection of journalistic materials and will force police and prosecutors across Europe, from Russia to France, to change their practices.”

The Grand Chamber judgment can be found here.

Click here for the intervention by MLDI and the other interveners.

Recent News

Guardians of the Amazon: Abraji and FLIP’s Joint Report on Journalism in the Region

Our partners, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) have joined forces to address the challenges facing journalism in the Amazon, one of the most difficult regions to cover due to its natural density and the intersection of legal and illegal economic interests. For this report, the two […]


Meet the Team: Chloe Pethick, MEL Officer

Can you tell us a little about yourself? I’m Chloe Pethick, and I joined Media Defence in February 2024 as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer. I hold a BA in Russian and International Relations, and an MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies, so I’ve previously had quite a strong regional focus. Prior to joining […]


World Press Freedom Day Side Event: Profiling and surveillance, a renewed challenge to freedom of expression

From May 2-4 2024, UNESCO and the government of Chile will host the 31st edition of World Press Freedom Day in Santiago. The global commemorative conference commemorates the vital role of journalism and information access in fostering a sustainable future that upholds diversity of voices. Media Defence is organising a side event at the conference […]