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Tag: james risen

Politico: Eric Holder Plugs His Legacy on Leak Cases

Reporter James Risen

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — A federal jury’s decision Monday to convict a former CIA officer for leaking top-secret information to a New York Times reporter was a big win for prosecutors — and for Attorney General Eric Holder’s new approach to handling sensitive cases involving journalists.

Holder decided to spare the reporter in the case, New York Times correspondent James Risen, from testifying against his sources. The move could become an important part of the soon-to-depart attorney general’s legacy and a guidepost for future government leak cases given that the government won the case without much testimony from the reporter who received the information.

Holder and his allies are arguing that they have helped secure journalists’ First Amendment rights with the maneuver, but whistleblower advocates worry that the prison time ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is facing in the wake of the trial will wind up silencing federal employees seeking to expose government malfeasance or ineptitude.

To read the full story click here. 

 

FBI Agent: No Direct Evidence Ex-CIA Officer Leaked Info to New York Times

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

An FBI agent testified Wednesday that there is no direct evidence that an ex-CIA officer leaked classified information to a New York Times reporter, the Associated Press reports

But the agent said CIA man Jeffrey Sterling was often in contact with journalist James Risen as prosecutors finished up their case based on phone and email contacts. Prosecutors recently declined to force Risen to testify.

Sterling is charged with leaking information about a classified mission that Risen wrote about in his 2006 book “State of War.”

Sterling has long denied being the source.

NYT’s James Risen Pushes Back in Hearing on Leaks

Reporter James Risen

By JOSH GERSTEIN
Politico

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s plan to defuse a First Amendment showdown with a New York Times reporter over his confidential sources was nearly derailed at a court hearing Monday when the journalist rebuffed a series of questions concerning his reporting.

But he eventually agreed to answer some of the queries, allowing the at-times tense session to get back on track and avoiding for now a major confrontation over press freedom.

Times national security writer James Risen testified for about 45 minutes in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, where ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is set to go on trial next week on charges of leaking top-secret information that Risen published in his 2006 book “State of War.”

 To read more click here.

Federal Judge Sets Deadline on DOJ’s Decision to Subpoena NYT Reporter

Reporter James Risen

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A federal judge has given the Justice Department until Tuesday to decide whether to subpoena New York Times reporter James Risen to testify against a CIA operative who allegedly leaked classified information to the journalist, the Huffington Post reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema issued the order Tuesday.

Former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling is accused of supplying Risen with classified information that was used for the journalist’s book, “State of War: The Secret History of the Cia and the Bush Administration.”

The book sparked the legal battle.

But now the judge is growing impatient and wants a decision on whether Risen will be ordered to testify.

“Since June 2, 2014, the United States has had over six months to decide whether it will subpoena James Risen to testify at this trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday, January 12, 2015,” the order read. “Because Mr. Risen’s presence or absence at the trial will have a significant impact on how the parties present their case, a decision about Mr. Risen must be made sufficiently before trial to enable the parties to prepare adequately.”

14 Pulitzer Prize Winners Ask Justice Department Not to Jail Reporter

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners urged the Justice Department on Monday to stop trying to force New York Times reporter and author James Risen to identify a confidential source, the US News reports.

Risen has said he’d go to jail before testifying at the trial of former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of providing a tip for Risen’s book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”

Prosecutors allege Risen divulged a CIA scheme to provide flawed nuclear weapons designs to Iran.

Fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners issued a statement in support of Risen.

“Enough is enough,” said three-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Barstow of The New York Times. “The relentless and by all appearances vindictive effort by two administrations to force Jim Risen into betraying his sources has already done substantial and lasting damage to journalism in the United States. I’ve felt the chill firsthand. Trusted sources in Washington are scared to talk by telephone, or by email, or even to meet for coffee, regardless of whether the subject touches on national security or not.”

New York Times Reporter, Author Faces Jail Time If He Refuses to Testify About Book Leak

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A New York Times reporter may face jail time if he refuses to testify about who leaked information to him for a book he wrote on the botched CIA operation in Iran.

The New York Times reports that James Risen, author of “State of War,” has steadfastly refused to testify, but he has run out of legal challenges, leading up to “the most serious confrontation between the government and the press in recent history.”

Reporter James Risen

Risen faces the possibility of prison time if he refuses to testify.

The government’s handling of the case will set a precedent, experts said.

“If the government proceeds and pursues the subpoena, especially if Mr. Risen goes to jail or is fined at some intolerable level, it will deal a withering blow to reporting that runs against the government’s wishes,” said Steven Aftergood, who studies government secrecy for the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists.

New York Times journalist Judith Miller was jailed for 85 days for refusing to testify about a CIA leak in 2005, the last time a reporter was imprisoned for not divulging information.

Column: The U.S. Government’s Hypocrisy When It Comes to Freedom of the Press

Reporter James Risen

By Trevor Timm
Freedom of the Press Foundation

The US State Department announced the launch of its third annual “Free the Press” campaign today, which will purportedly highlight “journalists or media outlets that are censored, attacked, threatened, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting.” A noble mission for sure. But maybe they should kick off the campaign by criticizing their own Justice Department, which on the very same day, has asked the Supreme Court to help them force Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen into jail.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department filed a legal brief today urging the Supreme Court to reject Risen’s petition to hear his reporter’s privilege case, in which the Fourth Circuit ruled earlier this year that James Risen (and all journalists) can be forced to testify against their sources without any regard to the confidentiality required by their profession. This flies in the face of common law precedent all over the country, as well as the clear district court reasoning in Risen’s case in 2012. (The government’s Supreme Court brief can be read here.)

Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee commendably grilled the State Department spokesman about the contradiction of its press freedom campaign and the James Risen case at today’s briefing on the State Department initiative, repeatedly asking if the government considers press freedom issues in the United States the same way it does abroad. The full transcript is below.

As Gerstein noted, “The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” and if the Justice Department succeeds “it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history.”

To read full column click here. 

NY Times Editorial: Next Move on Press Freedom

Reporter James Risen

By The New York Times
Editorial Board

Last July, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. spoke eloquently of “the importance of the constitutionally protected news gathering process,” the essential role of a free press when it comes to “government accountability and an open society,” and the need to better protect journalists from federal leak investigations.

At the time, he described policy revisions that supposedly would achieve those goals, including enhanced oversight by senior Justice Department officials and a new presumption that news organizations would be notified when the government sought their records from phone companies, Internet providers and other third parties.

Now, six months later, Mr. Holder says those policies are being followed, but he has yet to actually issue the new guidelines. And, most immediately, he has yet to call off the misguided quest by prosecutors to compel James Risen, a reporter for The Times, who wrote a 2006 book about the Central Intelligence Agency, to reveal a confidential source. Barely a week after Mr. Holder delivered his report to the White House, the Justice Department issued a statement declaring agreement with a chilling 2-to-1 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Virginia, denying the existence of any reporters’ privilege, grounded in the First Amendment, to protect confidential sources in criminal cases.

To read more click here.