LOYALIST terrorists in Northern Ireland have issued threats against journalists working for the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers.
A number of reporters were visited by police officers in the early hours of Friday morning with warnings of imminent attacks.
At least one journalist was told of a planned under-car booby trap attack while staff at the two Sunday titles - both owned by Independent News and Media (INM) - were warned they are at risk of immediate attack.
The development comes just weeks after the first anniversary of the New IRA murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry.
The PSNI is taking the threat seriously and officers have been in contact with the journalists concerned.
It is understood the threats emanate from the breakaway South East Antrim UDA.
Police have confirmed they are “in receipt” of information that indicates a planned and co-ordinated campaign of intimidation.
Peter Vandermeersch, Publisher at INM, said: “We will, of course, work with the police to ensure our staff’s safety. Threats against journalists should not be tolerated in any free society.
"Today marks the 75thanniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany and an important element in that victory was ensuring freedom of speech for subsequent generations. It is depressing that thugs still believe they can silence the press through intimidation. The Sunday World and Sunday Life will continue to publish stories that shed light in dark corners.”
Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, expressed grave concern at what he described as another attempt to intimidate and silence journalists.
He said: “This threat is being taken seriously by the PSNI, by the company and by the staff.
“This is an extremely worrying development and will be viewed with great concern by all journalists in Northern Ireland.
“Free press is a corner stone of democracy and it is essential that journalists are allowed to work without fear or intimidation.”
In 2001 ‘Sunday World’ reporter Martin O’Hagan was murdered by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) paramilitaries. The loyalist group targeted the journalist as he walked home with his wife. No one has ever been convicted of his murder.