Montreal

Judge orders sealing of La Presse journalist's cellphone data to protect sources

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered that data collected by Montreal police from La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé's cellphone be sealed.

Information gathered by surveilling Montreal journalist is stored on a USB key locked in a vault

Data collected by Montreal police from La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé's cellphone must be sealed, a Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Labrie has ordered that data collected by Montreal police from La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé's cellphone be sealed.

Lawyers from the Montreal newspaper were in court Friday asking the judge to ensure that phone numbers of sources gathered from Lagacé's cellphone be kept confidential and not used by police.

Lawyers for the Montreal police and the director of criminal prosecutions did not object to the request.

Sébastien Pierre-Roy, lawyer for La Presse, said the decision is important for freedom of the press.

"We cannot gamble with the safety of the secrecy of the sources that deal with journalists. It's a privilege that has been recognized by the Supreme Court," Pierre-Roy told reporters.

"And even though there has already been a breach, according to us, we wanted to prevent any more problems with any more attempts on the confidentiality of these sources."

Lawyer Sébastien Pierre-Roy said Friday's court appearance was a victory for freedom of the press. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)

Earlier this year, police obtained 24 warrants to track Lagacé's whereabouts using the GPS chip in his iPhone, and to obtain the identities of everyone with whom he's spoken and messaged. The grounds for the warrants remain unclear.

Police say that information is now on a USB key that's locked inside a vault.

The USB key will be sealed and all other copies will be destroyed.

Further arguments about the evidence gathered from Lagacé will be made on Nov. 24.

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