TORONTO — Vice Media is waging a legal battle with the RCMP after the digital media company was ordered to produce all communications between its employees and a man facing terrorism charges, said Vice Canada's head of content.
The Mounties issued a production order to two of Vice's offices in February, said Patrick McGuire. A production order is similar to a search warrant.
Police demanded "any notes and all records of communications" between reporter Ben Makuch, or any employee of Vice Media, and alleged Islamic State militant Farah Mohamed Shirdon, Vice reported.
In September, the RCMP issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant against Shirdon, a former resident of Calgary. He has been charged in absentia with several offences, including participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing others to carry out terrorist activity.
Vice News has published several interviews with Shirdon, including one on video.
The head of content at Vice Canada, Patrick McGuire, said that the company is going to court to dismiss the production order.
"We're not an investigative arm of the police. Even if they had come in and approached us through a more friendly manner, this [isn't] something we'd assist them with," he said.
Vice isn't trying to dismiss the order to protect Shirdon, but rather to protect the relationship between a reporter and a source, McGuire said.
"When a source is talking to a reporter, they need to believe and they need to know that [their] conversation is protected, and that it won't be handed over to police just because they ask," he said.
McGuire said that Vice hasn't held back any information that is in the public interest.
Vice News is set to argue the case in a Toronto court Jan. 11. The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press