MELBOURNE (ABC News / AAP / Pacific Media Watch): A journalist from The Australian newspaper has been ordered by a court to answer questions about his confidential sources for a story about anti-terrorism raids.
Associate editor Cameron Stewart is giving evidence in the committal hearing of Victorian police officer Simon Justin Artz, who is accused of leaking information to Stewart about a counter-terrorism operation dubbed Operation Neath.
Stewart published an article on August 4, 2009 about counter-terrorism raids due to take place early that morning in Melbourne, the court has heard.
Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Bill Stuart, Stewart said he was only willing to answer questions about his sources in relation to Operation Neath because Artz signed a deed releasing Stewart from his ethical obligations to protect his sources.
"I am only willing to answer in relation to Operation Neath," Stewart told the court.
"I am willing to give evidence because I have been released in relation to Operation Neath. I am not willing to give information about other matters."
But Magistrate Peter Mealy directed Stewart to answer questions regarding any sources he had who may have known about-counter terrorism investigations, not just Neath.
Stewart said he could not recall whether he had any sources within the Australian Federal Police at the time who may have had knowledge of counter-terrorism operations.
He replied that he did not have an ASIO source with such knowledge.
He said his source from Victoria Police was Artz.
The statements are a blow for Artz's defence team, who had suggested Stewart had contacted other sources on the day he met Artz, and produced what they claimed was evidence of a phone call to him from the Australian Federal Police.
But Stewart has denied speaking to the other source and the phone number was later proven to be that of the News Limited office in Canberra.
Earlier, Stewart described himself as a "reluctant witness" because he only agreed to give evidence after the deed of release was signed.
"Without the deed of release I would be unable to give evidence," he said.
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