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Government renews effort to expand Risen testimony

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Federal prosecutors launched another offensive last week in the battle to force a New York Times reporter to testify in…

Federal prosecutors launched another offensive last week in the battle to force a New York Times reporter to testify in the upcoming trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, claiming he plans to defend himself by blaming others for leaked information.

“It is now obvious that the defendant plans to point the finger at as many other individuals as possible, in a scattershot effort to manufacture reasonable doubt as to the identity of the individual who leaked the national defense information to Mr. Risen,” prosecutors said in a supplement to a motion asking a federal judge to reconsider and clarify an earlier order.

Sterling is charged with leaking classified information to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen, whose 2006 book “State of War” purportedly disclosed the secrets to the public.

On July 29 U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema ordered Risen to testify, but only on matters pertaining to his authorship and the accuracy of his writings regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

The supplement filed Friday said the U.S. government “has a compelling interest in Mr. Risen’s eyewitness testimony because it is necessary or critical to the case, and because there are no alternative means from which the government can obtain the same evidence.”

Prosecutors cited the defense’s allegation that congressional staffers, in particular former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer Vicki Divoll, were the source of the leaked information.

“Ms. Divoll’s attorney has publicly asserted that ‘If Mr. Risen were to give truthful testimony about these matters, he would confirm that he has not met, does not know, and has never communicated with Ms. Divoll,’” prosecutors said in the supplement. “Unfortunately, then, this appears to be the beginning of a campaign by the defendant to tar anyone with any limited knowledge of Classified Program No. 1.”

Today Brinkema granted Risen's request for a one-week extension to respond to “matters that were not included in its initial Memorandum in Support of its Motion for Clarification and Reconsideration."