Judge orders seal on Quebec columnist’s cellphone data collected by cops

‘La Presse’ wins bid to have columnist’s phone data sealed
WATCH ABOVE: A judge has granted a bid by 'La Presse' to have journalist Patrick Lagacé's phone data sealed after reports surfaced that Montreal police had been spying on Lagacé for months.

A Quebec judge has agreed to seal data collected by Montreal police from the cellphone of a La Presse columnist.

A lawyer for the Montreal newspaper was in court today seeking to ensure the phone numbers of Patrick Lagacé’s sources are kept confidential and out of police hands.

READ MORE: 3 other journalists allegedly under surveillance by Montreal police

Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Labrie agreed and ordered the information sealed.

Lawyers for various interested parties did not contest the order.

La Presse reported this week it had learned at least 24 surveillance warrants were issued for Lagacé’s phone this year at the request of the police’s special investigations unit. That section is responsible for looking into crime within the police force.

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READ MORE: Quebec premier announces measures in wake of police monitoring of reporters

Police say the information is on a USB key and will be sealed, while Labrie ordered any other copies destroyed within the next seven days.

Labrie ruled that police must not consult the information in any fashion until a case by La Presse against Montreal police is heard on its merits.

READ MORE: Quebec to hold public inquiry into surveillance of journalists

In recent days, Montreal and Quebec provincial police have admitted that several journalists were placed under surveillance and had their cellphone logs tapped.

The Quebec government has announced an inquiry will be held into the monitoring.