UK media groups lose secrecy challenge on terror trial

LONDON – British media trying to report on the terrorism trial of a law student lost a legal challenge Tuesday over unprecedented secrecy surrounding the case.

The case was against London student Erol Incedal, who was found not guilty last year of preparing terror acts. He had been accused of plotting with a jihadi in Syria either to target high-profile people such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair or planning a Mumbai-style mass attack using a rifle.

All but a few reporters were barred from covering his trial, and those who did attend were barred from reporting the case pending the outcome of the challenge. Parts of the trial were held in complete secrecy, excluding the media and the public.

Media organizations say the case represented “important issues about the constitutional principle of open justice,” and argue that they should be allowed to report what was said during the private sessions of the trial now that it is over.

But Judge John Thomas and two other senior judges at the Court of Appeal said Tuesday that the restrictions were necessary “in the interests of national security.”