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Media subpoenaed in anthrax case

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Confidentiality/Privilege    

Media subpoenaed in anthrax case

  • Subpoenas have been or will soon be issued to numerous news media organizations in Dr. Steven J. Hatfill’s Privacy Act lawsuit over being named a “person of interest” in the 2001 anthrax attack investigation.

Dec. 17, 2004 — Attorneys for Dr. Steven J. Hatfill have subpoenaed a number of news organizations to provide documents and testimony in Hatfill’s Privacy Act lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft and other government officials. National Public Radio, the Associated Press and CBS are known to have received subpoenas, and a dozen other major news organizations are expected to soon receive subpoenas.

Hatfill is suing in federal court in Washington, D.C., over government leaks and being publicly named a “person of interest” in the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17. Although he has not been charged, Hatfill lost his job as a government contractor and has been unable to find employment since being identified in the investigation.

Hatfill’s suit has been hampered because the Department of Justice claims that submitting to inquiries during the discovery phase of the trial would compromise the ongoing investigation into the attacks.

Earlier this month U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered as many as 100 federal prosecutors, FBI agents and other federal employees involved in the investigation to sign broad waivers of any confidentiality agreements they have with reporters.

In November, U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton dismissed Hatfill’s related libel lawsuit against The New York Times . Hatfill has appealed that ruling.

(Hatfill v. Ashcroft) GP

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© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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