Protecting Sources and Contacts Abroad — Certa intelligence & security

Protecting Sources and Contacts Abroad

Protecting sources and contacts abroad

Journalists need sources and contacts who can assist them with their information gathering and work in general. Working with sources and contacts can be especially difficult in certain areas, where discussing authorities and powerful people can have serious consequences, as these have the capacity and motive to threaten and carry out violence. There are many examples of threats, attacks and harassment following the exposure of contacts and the careless handling of sources and their private information. In some cases, journalists’ sources and contacts have reportedly disappeared or been executed. These are dilemmas that journalists must consider and respond to.

Protecting Human Sources Abroad

It is essential that sources and contacts who are promised anonymity, can trust the journalists´ promise, and that his or her identity is not exposed following meetings, mail exchanges, telephone conversations or other contact with the journalist. If sources and contacts are not protected adequately, they lose the will to work with journalist, thereby depriving the journalist of valuable knowledge, insight and help.

CERTA offers a training course for journalists with a focus on handling sources and contacts during assignments in areas where freedom of speech is limited. The course covers relevant security aspects linked to protecting sources, communication and storage of information, along with appropriate conduct and behaviour in the public sphere. The course is developed and delivered by advisers with operational experience from the Danish intelligence services and Foreign Ministry.

The course contains both theory and practice, and covers:

  • Basic security instructions upon first encounter with a source/contact
  • Methods for safe communication with a source/contact
  • Setting up security conditions for a meeting spot
  • Demeanor while travelling to and from, and during a meeting
  • Reception of documentation – form and format
  • Storage, transport and distribution of documentation
  • Counter-observation and elimination of shadowing and observation
  • Continued protection of the source/contact after an assignment’s completion
  • Communication equipment – IT/landline phones/mobile phones/SATCOM

The course can also be relevant to others, such as NGOs, that have a legitimate interest in protecting certain foreign contacts. In addition to the course, CERTA offers advice and assistance in relation to all aspects of travel security and residence abroad.

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