London, Oct 30: British police have used special powers from the counter-terrorism laws to seize a laptop of a young BBC journalist who has interviewed supporters of the dreaded Islamic State terrorist group.
Secunder Kermani, who has reported extensively on UK-born jihadis, and the BBC were the target of an order officers obtained from a judge under the Terrorism Act.
"Police obtained an order under the Terrorism Act requiring the BBC to hand over communication between a Newsnight journalist and a man in Syria who had publicly identified himself as an IS member," a BBC spokesperson said.
"The man had featured in Newsnight reports and was not a confidential source."
A senior BBC editor has expressed his concern after one of the news corporation's reporters had his laptop seized by police under terror laws. BBC Newsnight editor Ian Katz said police use of the act to access information shared between one of its journalists and his Islamic State (ISIS) sources could affect reporting.
"While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest," Katz said.
The police were responding to communications between Kermani and a man in Syria who was publicly identified as an ISIS extremist.
Police have legal powers to seize information during any inquiries into the "commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism", under the Terrorism Act which was introduced in 2000.
Kermani, who has previously worked for BBC London, Channel 4 News and the Islam Channel, joined Newsnight last year.
During his work for the current affairs programme he has interviewed a number of people claiming to be connected to the IS, including Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old Australian whose photograph with ISIS fighters appeared online last December.