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Friday, Dec. 3, 2010


Bizarre publication effort

The Tokyo District Court on Monday issued a provisional injunction halting the publication and sale of a book consisting of all 114 documents linked to international terrorism investigations. Most of them are believed to have been written by the Metropolitan Police Department's Third Foreign Affairs Division. The documents had been leaked onto the Internet on Oct. 28.

They included not only information on targets of investigation but also the names of informants and investigators. They contained personal information on people who cooperated with the MPD section in charge of coping with international terrorism, including their names, nationality, passport numbers, face photos and information on family members. Several people including Muslims had asked for the court injunction.

The publisher, Daisan Shokan, says it wanted to show that the police are conducting illegal investigations, including collecting personal information on people. It added that the documents are not secrets since it is estimated that more than 10,000 people in 21 countries and regions obtained the documents from the Internet from Oct. 28 to Nov. 25.

The court pointed out that the disclosure of the personal information by the book would cause irreparable damage to the people concerned and that the disclosure has nothing to do with promotion of public interest. It said that the documents included descriptions that give the impression that some of the people mentioned are suspects of terrorism.

It is wrong to suppress publications just because they include personal information. But publishers must be able to convince courts that their publications are compatible with public interest. One wonders why Daisan Shokan did not take the trouble of blackening out the personal information.

The situation concerning the leak and the book is bizarre. The police have not admitted that the leaked documents belong to them. Therefore, they have not taken action to stop the publication of the book. If police continue to dodge responsibility, similar publications may appear again.

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