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Reporter subpoenaed to identify confidential source

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ordered Washington Times reporter William Gertz to identify the confidential sources who provided information…

U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ordered Washington Times reporter William Gertz to identify the confidential sources who provided information for a 2006 story he wrote about the prosecution of a Chinese spy ring in California.

In the story, Gertz correctly reported that new charges would be filed against Chi Mak, an engineer who worked for several American defense contractors, and several of his relatives. 

Last May, a jury convicted Mak of being an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable. Carney then sentenced Mak to more than 24 years in prison. His wife, brother and two other relatives also pled guilty to similar charges. 

The subpoena comes on the heels of a fruitless government investigation into the potential leak. In an order dated May 1, Carney wrote that the year-long probe was unable to identify who leaked the grand jury information to Gertz. Carney wrote that it was therefore “necessary to subpoena Mr. Gertz to testify regarding the identity of the source that provided him with the grand jury information.” 

In his story, Gertz attributed the statements to “senior Justice Department officials.”

The New York Sun speculates that Gertz is gearing up to fight the subpoena, as Gertz has enlisted the assistance of attorneys Allen Farber and Charles Leeper.