LONDON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- An editor at the British tabloid The Sun criticized the weekend arrests of senior staff members as part of a "witch hunt" by police and politicians.
Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun's associate editor, defended the newspaper's journalists and standards in a column appearing in the newspaper Monday.
"In what would at any other time cause uproar in Parliament and among civil liberty and human rights campaigners, [The Sun's] journalists are being treated like members of an organized crime gang," Kavanagh wrote.
He wrote "a huge operation driven by politicians threatens the very foundations of a free press."
The Metropolitan Police department said five Sun reporters and editors were arrested early Saturday on suspicion of making payments to police officers and public officials. All have been released on bail.
About 20 were arrested as part of the Met's investigation into alleged corrupt payments from journalists.
In the column, headlined "Witch-hunt has put us behind ex-Soviet states on Press freedom," Kavanaugh writes: "Without good sources no newspaper could uncover scandals in the public interest. These stories sometimes involve whistle-blowers. Sometimes money changes hands. This has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed, here and abroad."