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HomeAbout NBHRNHuman RightsTimes Reporter Subpoenaed Over Source for Book

Times Reporter Subpoenaed Over Source for Book

[Although unrelated to the subpoenas issued to the three Puerto Rican activists in New York, this article is another example of how the “war on terrorism” legitimates reduction of civil liberties]

February 1, 2008

(Click here for original article)

WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to a reporter of The New York Times, apparently to try to force him to reveal his confidential sources for a 2006 book on the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the reporter’s lawyers said Thursday.

The subpoena was delivered last week to the New York law firm that is representing the reporter, James Risen, and ordered him to appear before a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., on Feb. 7.

Mr. Risen’s lawyer, David N. Kelley, who was the United States attorney in Manhattan early in the Bush administration, said in an interview that the subpoena sought the source of information for a specific chapter of the book “State of War.”

The chapter asserted that the C.I.A. had unsuccessfully tried, beginning in the Clinton administration, to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program. None of the material in that chapter appeared in The New York Times.

“We intend to fight this subpoena, so we’ll likely be engaging in some sort of litigation,” Mr. Kelley said. “Jim has adhered to the highest traditions of journalism. He is the highest caliber of reporter that you can find, and he will keep his commitment to the confidentiality of his sources.”

Mr. Risen and a colleague at The Times, Eric Lichtblau, won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for their disclosure of the administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants; Mr. Risen’s book expanded on their reporting about the domestic eavesdropping effort.

Mr. Risen, who is based in Washington and specializes in intelligence issues, is the latest of several reporters to face subpoenas in leak investigations overseen by the Justice Department.

A former reporter at The Times, Judith Miller, was jailed for 85 days in 2005 after initially refusing to identify a confidential source to a grand jury that was investigating the leak of the name of a covert C.I.A. operative. Ms. Miller testified after being granted a waiver by her source, I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was Vice President Dick Cheney‘s former chief of staff.

Martha K. Levin, executive vice president and publisher of Free Press, which published Mr. Risen’s book and is a unit of Simon & Schuster Inc., said in a statement that “the American people have been well served by Mr. Risen’s reporting.” Ms. Levin’s statement also said that “the ability to publish confidentially sourced information about our government’s practices and policies is one of the bedrock principles of a free and open society.”

A spokeswoman for The Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said the paper “strongly supports Mr. Risen and deplores what seems to be a growing trend of government leak investigations focusing on journalists, particularly in the national security area.”

Ms. Mathis would not say why the material about the C.I.A. program involving Iran appeared in Mr. Risen’s book but not in pages of The Times. “We don’t discuss matters not published in The Times,” she said.

The Justice Department would not comment on the work of the grand jury that issued the subpoena to Mr. Risen. “The department does not comment on pending investigations,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman.

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