Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz told a federal court Tuesday that protecting the confidentiality of his sources is "absolutely essential" to his ability to do his job.
Gertz was subpoenaed after The Times published an article in May 2006 about the Chinese espionage case citing unnamed sources. U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney ordered a comprehensive criminal investigation to determine who leaked information to Gertz.
"Without the information provided by confidential sources, these events – or important aspects of these events – would remain shielded from public and congressional scrutiny and oversight," Gertz wrote in a declaration filed Tuesday, The Times reported. "Protecting the identities of my confidential sources is absolutely essential to my ability to do my job."
In the story, Gertz quoted anonymous government officials saying that senior members of the Justice Department had approved an indictment against Chi Mak, an engineer who worked for an American defense contractor. Mak was charged with conspiracy and "unlawful export of defense articles."
According to The Times, Gertz predicted that if revealing confidential sources became commonplace, the "quantity and quality of investigative reporting and critical analysis would decline."
Gertz also said that being forced to divulge the people he talked to concerning a Chinese espionage case would infringe on his First Amendment rights.
Judge Carney has ordered Gertz to appear in court at 9 a.m. on Thursday.