A federal judge in California ruled Thursday that Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz will not have to testify about confidential sources who may have given him leaks of grand jury information.
According to the New York Sun, Gertz invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid answering questions in court.
Judge Cormac Carney said the public’s interest in preserving a free press outweighed the interest of forcing Gertz to reveal his sources, according to The Sun.
Federal prosecutors nonetheless have signaled they want Gertz to testify before a grand jury looking into the leaks. If they grant the reporter immunity, he will not be able to rely on the self-incrimination defense to resist testifying, the paper said.
Gertz has indicated he will fight attempts to bring him before a grand jury. Once under subpoena, if he refuses to testify, he could face civil or criminal contempt of court charges.
Gertz read a prepared statement outside court Thursday, The Sun reported.
“Today’s hearing shows that First Amendment press freedoms are under assault. Confidential sources are the lifeblood of a free press, independent of government control. Without them, most government failures and abuses of past decades would have gone unreported and uncorrected,” Gertz said. “Efforts by government to compel reporters to disclose news sources must be resisted.”