Times Reporter Balks at Grapple by Prosecutors for His CIA Source
In a new appellate brief, New York Times reporter James Risen says he should not be compelled to reveal the confidential source who revealed U.S. military defense secrets.
Former CIA operative Jeffrey Sterling stands accused as the leak. Risen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, allegedly incorporated information he received from Sterling into Chapter 9 of his 2006 book “State of War.” Chapter 9 focuses on “Operation Merlin,” a botched attempt by the CIA to have a former Russian scientist pass obviously fake nuclear blueprints to Iran.
Federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., have repeatedly urged the court to compel Risen to identify his source, but U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said Risen has qualified reporter’s privilege under the First Amendment.
On appeal to the 4th Circuit, prosecutors again argued that Risen must testify, claiming that the importance of his testimony outweighed any reporter’s privilege, as he is the only eyewitness to the crime.