|NMU||OHIO||Newsgathering||Dec 18, 2001|
Journalist charged with impersonating officials
- A Cleveland grand jury indicted a Los Angeles-based journalist from a Japanese newspaper, finding that he falsely identified himself three times to secure documents about accused scientists.
A journalist researching the case of two scientists accused of selling government secrets became embroiled in a federal case of his own after a Cleveland grand jury indicted him on charges of impersonating government officials.
Federal officials claim Avi Lidgi, 27, of the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, falsely identified himself three times last May in an attempt to get a list of government exhibits in the case faxed to him. Lidgi eventually got the list from defense attorneys and prosecutors by pretending he was a federal prosecutor and a judge’s assistant.
The grand jury indicted Lidgi, a resident of Santa Monica, Calif., on Dec. 12. If convicted, Lidgi could get up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Lidgi, a staff member of the Yomiuri Shimbun’s Los Angeles bureau, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that the newspaper fired him after learning of the indictments.
The government secrets case involves two scientists accused of stealing research material from the Cleveland Clinic. Both Hiroaki Serizawa of the University of Kansas Medical Center and Takashi Okamoto, a former clinic scientist, pleaded innocent and face a trial next May.
© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press