“My first reaction was to be glad and be really thankful for all the people who supported me,” said Journal de Montreal court reporter Michael Nguyen after charges were dropped.
Graham Hughes / Graham Hughes/The Gazette
Criminal charges will not be laid against Journal de Montréal reporter Michaël Nguyen, who had been accused of illegally obtaining information from the Sûreté du Québec website in 2016. His laptop, which was seized by police three years ago, is expected to be returned early next week.Before letting himself feel relief about the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales’ decision, Nguyen said, “I have to admit when I got the news I had to reread the email at least three times.”“Honestly, in my eyes that was the only possible outcome, I couldn’t imagine anything else because I’ve said it from the start: I did nothing wrong,” Nguyen said. “I’m just glad it’s over.”On Sept. 21, 2016, Nguyen’s computer was seized by Sûreté du Québec following a complaint by the Conseil de la magistrature (the Judicial Council), who alleged he had illegally obtained information from their website.In June of that year, Nguyen reported that a special constable from the Montreal courthouse filed a complaint with the Judicial Council against Judge Suzanne Vadboncœur. The complaint alleged the judge had berated constables after leaving a Christmas party in 2015 in the courthouse’s garage as they were having trouble opening the door.Nguyen’s reporting included a garage video of the incident, which he says he found through a simple search on Google.Editor-in-chief of the Journal de Montréal Dany Doucet is on the record saying the judicial board should have verified the documents in question were in a secure place before accusing a journalist of a criminal offence.At the time his article was published, Nguyen didn’t expect such an outcome. “When I do my job, following the law is always one of my first preoccupations if not the first, so being told that you were under investigation for a criminal offence was quite a surprise.”Mark Bantey, a media lawyer with Gowling WLG whose clients include the Montreal Gazette, said seizing Nguyen’s laptop “was an abuse of power by police authorities.”Bantey expressed concern when a judge ruled in December 2016 that the police’s seizure of the laptop was legal. “It demonstrated that a new law was required to protect journalistic materials and sources, which we now have.”Bernard Pageau, senior director of legal affairs at Québecor Media, told the Journal de Montréal it was about time that this negative moment for the freedom of the press comes to an end after three years.“My first reaction was to be glad and be really thankful for all the people who supported me in this event, colleagues, other reporters, the judicial community and the journalistic community,” said Nguyen. “I can’t help but think of my bosses and the Journal and Quebecor’s administration, because from Day 1 they have always been behind me.”The Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales declined to firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/mia_anhouryRelated