European court rules Netherlands government wrongly forced Dutch magazine to reveal sources

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Court of Human Rights says the Dutch government wrongly forced a magazine to turn over information identifying protected sources.

The case stems from a 2002 incident in which prosecutors forced Autoweek to surrender a CD containing images of an illegal street race whose participants had been promised anonymity.

In an unanimous ruling Tuesday, the Strasbourg-based court's 17 judges said Dutch public prosecutors should have sought an independent opinion on whether their criminal investigation overrode the public interest in a free press.

Several news organizations including The Associated Press submitted arguments to the court supporting Autoweek's owner, Sanoma Uitgevers BV.

Judges awarded Sanoma euro35,000 ($45,000) legal costs.