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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Press Freedom? US government investigated journalists 14 times during 2014

Report from the Justice Department includes 14 incidents when journalists were questioned, arrested or subpoenaed, including high-profile New York Times case
The New York Times building.
 New York Times reporter James Risen was issued a subpoena in 2014 demanding he divulge a CIA source. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

 New York Times reporter James Risen was issued a subpoena in 2014 demanding he divulge a CIA source. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
Amanda Holpuch in New York
A Justice Department report says the US government questioned, arrested or subpoenaed journalists 14 times during 2014, including the high-profile subpoena issued to New York Times reporter James Risen.
Former US attorney general Eric Holder said in February 2014 that the department would release information on how law enforcement officials use its tool to investigate the news media.
The four-page annual report released on Friday includes 14 incidents, including the subpoena issued to Risen, who refused to divulge his CIA source for a chapter of his book about the Iran nuclear program. The informant, Jeffrey Sterling, was convicted on nine counts in January.
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“Today’s report is an important step in the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to promote the freedom of the press, to keep the American people informed and to improve transparency and accountability regarding media-related process,” said attorney general Loretta Lynch.
Also included in the report are a handful of attorney general-authorized questions, arrests, charges or subpoenas for court orders or search warrants.
Most of the cases involved the department attempting to get information about criminal investigations obtained through reporting, often with the news companies voluntarily submitting to questioning or complying with the department’s request.
This was the case in the prosecution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, when CNN and local Boston news station WBZ-TV complied with a request to provide audio and video recordings of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
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In other cases, the Justice Department suggested that it used the definition of news media loosely. In an application submitted for a warrant to search the home and electronic media of someone suspected of hacking, it clarified that the person was someone “whom the department treated as a member of the news media in an abundance of caution”. Ultimately, they did not execute the warrant.
Lynch said the report includes the information “so that the public can better understand how the department is striking the proper balance among several vital interests: protecting national security, ensuring public safety, promoting effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice and safeguarding the essential role of the free press in fostering government accountability and an open society”.
Culled from The Guardian

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