"We are surprised and disappointed by comments from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, saying 'legal action should be taken' against Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for his reporting on NSA surveillance,” a Guardian spokesperson said in a statement to The Huffington Post.
"This is especially troubling in light of comments from Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General who stated: 'As long as I am attorney general, we will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job.,'" the statement continued. "Holder went on to say he was 'troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.'"
Indeed, it is not a crime for journalists to publish classified information, and Holder did recently vow not to prosecute journalists for their reporting in response to criticism of tactics the Justice Department used against Associated Press and Fox News journalists while investigating leaks.
King said Tuesday night on CNN’s “AC 360” that reporters who publish leaked classified information should be prosecuted. "I think on something of this magnitude, there is an obligation both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something that would so severely compromise national security."
On Wednesday, King specifically called out Greenwald during a Fox News interview and claimed the journalist “has said that he has names of CIA agents and assets around the world, and they're threatening to disclose that."
In the case of Greenwald, King said, "When you have someone who discloses secrets like this and threatens to release more, yes, there has to be legal action taken against him."
Greenwald responded on Twitter, writing that “everything [King] said is based on the blatant *lie that I threatened to disclose names of CIA covert agents.”
In an interview with The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, Greenwald said that such threats from lawmakers are “not going to deter me or limit me or constrain me in any way from exercising my core First Amendment rights."
The Guardian, a British newspaper with an online edition in the U.S., has driven the NSA story over the past week. Greenwald signaled that the Guardian will continue to pursue the story, telling The Huffington Post on Monday, “We're going to be working on this for a long time to come."