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Reporter ordered to jail for refusing to disclose source

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, DC         Confidentiality/Privilege    

Reporter ordered to jail for refusing to disclose source

  • New York Times reporter Judith Miller has been ordered to jail for refusing to testify about conversations with a confidential source in the investigation into who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters.

Oct. 7, 2004 — U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan today ordered reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times jailed for refusing to testify about conversations with a confidential source. Hogan stayed the order while Miller pursues an appeal. If unsuccessful, Miller could be jailed up to 18 months or until she agrees to testify.

Hogan ruled that reporters do not have an absolute First Amendment privilege not to testify about confidential sources, and that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald had exhausted other sources before subpoenaing Miller, the Associated Press reported.

Miller has been subpoenaed by Fitzgerald to testify in the grand jury investigation into who leaked the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Her identity was first revealed by columnist Robert Novak in a July 14, 2003 column.

Other journalists have been subpoenaed in the investigation, and have agreed to testify in limited circumstances in which they had been released from promises of confidentiality by their sources. Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper was ordered to jail and fined $1,000 a day by Hogan on Aug. 9 for refusing to testify. While Cooper was free pending an appeal, he agreed to testify about conversations he had with Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, after Libby waived their confidentiality agreement. Cooper has since been subpoenaed again.

Miller has refused to testify even under those limited circumstances.

Fitzgerald has also subpoenaed the telephone records of Miller and another Times reporter, Phillip Shenon, in an unrelated Chicago investigation into whether an Islamic charity organization suspected of providing funding to terrorists was tipped off before a raid on its offices. The Times has filed a lawsuit to block the subpoena on the telephone company.

(In re Special Counsel Investigation; Media Counsel: Floyd Abrams, Cahill, Gordon & Reindel, LLP, New York City) GP

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