Tuesday, October 19, 2021


September 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

How far can a U.S. court reach? That question was raised anew on Monday when a federal judge in New York ordered the BBC to surrender unaired footage from a documentary about the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Plaintiffs in the case have claimed that outtakes from interviews with two Palestinian fighters who appeared in the documentary might include information that would link Arafat’s Fatah party and the Palestinian Authority to suicide bombings in Israel that killed their American relatives. The BBC had refused to turn over the footage voluntarily, arguing that doing so would compromise its reputation for editorial independence. However, today’s (Tuesday) London Independent quoted U.S. Magistrate Ronald Ellis as saying “The outtakes are not confidential material because the BBC is free to disseminate any portions of the interviews… Although the court is skeptical of a ‘smoking gun’ presenting itself in these outtakes, the standard for relevance to overcome the journalistic privilege is low and the outtakes meet this lower standard.” The newspaper observed, “The judgment will have the effect of forcing a non-American broadcaster to surrender unbroadcast footage from a documentary — Arafat Investigated — made almost a decade ago for a British audience.” The plaintiffs are reportedly attempting to sue the Palestinian Authority in U.S. courts for allegedly funding the terrorist groups who carried out the bombings between 2001 and 2004.