The Montreal Police department has been tracking the La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé via his iPhone for months, according to a new reports.
Over 24 surveillance warrants for the phone were granted by the court in 2016, and of those, three warrants allowed police to obtain information regarding incoming and outgoing numbers sent and received by the phone.
According to the Montreal Gazette, the SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal) utilized the GPS chip in the phone to be able to locate Lagacé. The head of the SPVM, Costas Labos, gave the green light to the investigation though he claims that no other journalist has been under surveillance by the department in years.
Labos was subject to a criminal investigation this past summer in connection with a look into media leaks, according to the Montreal Gazette. No charges were filed against him.
The investigation has blown up on Twitter, where history’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, referenced the event as grounds for a warning to journalists. Snowden now works for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non profit organization that supports public interest journalism.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 31, 2016
The warrants on Lagacé’s phone were apparently requested and obtained in relation to an ongoing investigation into police personnel. The investigation, dubbed Project Escouade, included allegations of fabricating evidence related to an investigation into Montreal drug trafficking and street gangs. Five police officers were arrested in connection to the investigation and two were charged.
Investigators explained to the Gazette that by monitoring his cell phone, they detected contact between police and Lagacé.