Police have used special powers from the counter-terrorism laws in order to seize a laptop that belongs to a journalist from BBC Newsnight, it has emerged.

The BBC and Secunder Kermani, who joined the broadcaster’s flagship current affairs programme last year and has reported extensively on UK-born jihadis, were the target of an order officers obtained from a judge under the Terrorism Act.

Police sought the order to read communications between Kermani and a man in Syria who had publicly identified himself as a member of Islamic State and who had featured in Newsnight reports.

The editor of Newsnight, Ian Katz, said on Wednesday: “While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest.”

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