The Reporters Committee criticized the U.S. Navy for keeping hearings and information secret in an espionage case.
“The military justice system can be mysterious,” said Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “But just because a case is being prosecuted on a military base does not make it secret under the law.”
The Norfolk Naval Station has refused for months to release information about the case of Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann, a petty officer who has been detained for four months and faces espionage charges after allegedly deserting his ship in July 2005 and giving classified defense information to a foreign government. The Navy did not allow public access to Weinmann’s pre-trial hearing, called an Article 32 hearing, and refused to reveal details of the charges against him until after the hearing was held.
Spurred by calls from reporters frustrated at being blocked from covering such proceedings, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is releasing A Reporter’s Guide to Military Justice, to help journalists navigate military proceedings. The guide is being released with the summer issue of the Reporters Committee’s quarterly magazine, The News Media & The Law, and is now available on the Reporters Committee’s Web site.
A Reporter’s Guide to Military Justice addresses a number of issues military reporters may face, including learning about upcoming proceedings, getting on base, learning the difference between the military and civilian justice systems, and dealing with unlawful roadblocks that, unfortunately, military reporters commonly face.
The Reporters Committee is a nonprofit association that provides legal defense and advocacy services to journalists working in the United States. It hosts a 24-hour legal hotline for journalists and publishes guides to various areas of media law.
A Reporter’s Guide to Military Justice can be found at: https://www.rcfp.org/militaryjustice