VANCOUVER - RCMP investigators had barely finished sifting through the personal belongings of a British Columbia couple accused of planning a Canada Day terrorist attack when reporters, photographers and camera operators descended on the two-bedroom basement apartment near Vancouver, eager to get a look inside.

The suspects' landlords, who live on the main floor of the house in a residential area of Surrey, B.C., were all too ready to oblige, allowing a steady stream of journalists to document the messy squalor inside the suite.

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested on Canada Day and details of the plot were unveiled by the RCMP at a news conference the following day.

Images from inside the apartment — including posters and books featuring Arabic writing, prescription methadone bottles belonging to Korody and printed photographs — were soon beamed across the country, offering a glimpse into the lives of two suspected terrorists.

But a civil liberties organization and a tenants' rights group are raising concerns about the fact that journalists were allowed in at all, suggesting the media tours violated tenancy and privacy laws.

"It's illegal," said Josh Paterson, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

"As far as we're concerned, based on the information we know, it was illegal for the landlord to let anyone in or go in themselves."

Paterson says provincial tenancy laws only allow landlords to enter suites with the permission of the tenant or in an emergency.

Provincial privacy laws also forbid anyone to enter a private dwelling without permission, he said.

"Just because you're accused of a crime, it doesn't mean that your landlord gets to have an open house," he said.

Tom Durning of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre agreed

"These are rights," he said. "Whether (the landlord) did it through ignorance — landlords should know that you just can't walk in and expose these people and their house to public scrutiny."

However, both the tenancy laws and the provincial Privacy Act would require the tenant to file a formal complaint or civil suit to claim their rights had been violated.

The Canadian Press was among the media outlets that toured the suite, sending both a photographer and a reporter to the apartment, where a landlord invited them inside.

"We believed the landlord had the authority to let us in and that we were there legally," said Scott White, Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Press. "We went in and reported on it because there is a public interest in Canadians learning who the accused are, and learning how they lived is part of that."

There was a number of reporters, photographers and TV camera operators going in and out of the suite on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There was some indication that property had been moved around by some of the members of the media.

A Canadian Press reporter who was inside the apartment saw another journalist rifling through a box of photos, while a camera operator from yet another outlet could be seen arranging photographs before filming them. Other items in the apartment had clearly been moved throughout the day on Wednesday.

The landlord, who spoke on the condition that her name not be used, said the police officers who searched the apartment told her it wouldn't be a problem to allow reporters in. She also said she called the provincial Residential Tenancy Branch to ask whether she could enter the apartment to clean it up, and she said she was told it would be OK to go inside.

"I have been here for 30 years, I have never seen this scenario before, I never know what to do," said the landlord.

The landlord added she believed some reporters who were inside went too far.

"Some take too much advantage from this, because they see everything, photos — they should not do it," she said.

Sgt. Peter Thiessen of the RCMP said he couldn't comment on any conversations between the landlord and police officers at the scene.

"We completed our search and have no further interest in that suite, and what the landlord may be allowing has nothing to do with the RCMP," said Thiessen.

"There's nothing criminal, we have received no complaint in regards to unauthorized people being in that suite. Beyond that, it's up to the media to decide whether they have the legal authority to enter that suite."

Ross Howard, who teaches journalism at Langara College in Vancouver, said the case raises ethical questions about balancing the rights of Nuttall and Korody against the public's right to know. He said it would clearly be wrong to break into the apartment, but in this case, the landlord invited the reporters inside.

"This one is a tough call — the public probably has lots of interest in knowing more about these people ... and that kind of information might be possible to glean from going through some of the stuff in their apartment.

"But no doubt, the reporters were invading the privacy of people who have only been accused but not yet found guilty of anything. That's the two sides of it, and I'm not 100 per cent sure which side to come down on."

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  • John Nuttall

    John Nuttall is shown in this undated photo. Nuttall, 38, and his partner, Amanda Korody, were arrested on Monday and charged with three counts each in relation to an alleged plot to detonate bombs at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Canada Day, as thousands celebrated the national holiday.

  • Exterior View Of House

    The exterior of a home that had the basement apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Front Door Of Basement Suite

    An exterior view of the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody is shown in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bathroom

    The bathroom counter is seen inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Kitchen

    A man walks through the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Kitchen

    Bottles of methadone are seen on the kitchen counter in the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Living Room

    The apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody is shown in Surrey, B.C.

  • Living Room

    A photogrpaher shoots pictures inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Money and a poster are pinned on a wall in the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    A photographer shoots pictures inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • RCMP Chief Supt. Wayne Rideout looks at a photograph of pressure cookers that RCMP say two people intended to use as explosive devices, during a news conference to announce terrorism charges in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday July 2, 2013. The charges are in connection to an alleged Al-Qaeda-inspired plot to explode a bomb at the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day.

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) created with a pressure cooker filled with rusted nails is shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Contents (nuts, bolts, nails and washers) and other materials for the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Three pressure cookers to be used as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Security guards watch over the legislature grounds in Victoria, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • An exterior view of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. Mounties say two people with "al-Qaida ideology" planned to blow up the British Columbia legislature on a national holiday.

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