The New York Times sounded off on the recent federal court decision ordering James Risen to testify against his source in a leaks case.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court reversed a lower court's decision to allow Risen to keep his source confidential. He could face jail if he refuses to testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who is being charged with leaking classified information.
"They just keep coming at me," Risen told Times public editor Margaret Sullivan in a piece published over the weekend. Sullivan noted that the reporter has been trying to stay out of court for the past ten years. Meanwhile, Risen's lawyer is now aiming to fight the decision by citing the DOJ's new guidelines for investigations into journalists.
Executive editor Jill Abramson also told Sullivan that she was “bitterly disappointed in the court’s decision,” and said it was damaging to “the ongoing important work that journalists do in holding powerful institutions and the government accountable to the people.”
Risen's case is just one of several battles between the press and the Obama administration. The White House has also been under fire over the DOJ's naming of Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a leaks case and the secret monitoring of AP phone lines. Abramson's comments on the Risen decision echoed her previous criticism about those cases.
In June, she told CBS News' Bob Schieffer that the Times and its readers "are concerned that the process of news gathering is being criminalized." She also said that the administration's pursuit of journalists was scaring sources. "The reporters who work for the Times in Washington have told me many of their sources are petrified even to return calls... it has a real practical effect that is important," she said at the time.