Supreme Court Sides with DOJ in Attack on Press Freedom

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday “effectively sided with the government” against embattled New York Times journalist James Risen by rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling challenging the Justice Department’s demand that he reveal a confidential source.

“By going after Risen, the Obama administration has done more damage to reporter’s privilege than any other case in forty years.” —Trevor Timm, Freedom of the Press Foundation

The ruling means that Risen has come to the end of the appeals process in his case and must now either testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling or face possible jail time. The Department of Justice believes that Sterling is Risen’s confidential source, but Risen has consistently refused to confirm that belief, citing press freedoms and his right as a journalist to protect confidential sources. If he refuses to testify—as he has repeatedly said he will—he could be placed in contempt of court and face jail time until he complies.

As the Times itself reports:

Fellow journalist Glenn Greenwald expressed his frustration with the court’s decision, by tweeting:

Norman Solomon, a journalist and co-founder of the progressive advocacy organization RootsAction, says the ruling exemplifies issues he highlighted in a recent piece, titled An Assault from Obama’s Escalating War on Journalism, written about the Risen case for Common Dreams last week. In comments emailed in the wake of Monday’s court decision, Solomon explained:

“Fortunately, what makes James Risen an excellent journalist is also what is making him an excellent protagonist for real freedom of the press.” —Norman Solomon, RootsAction.org

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And Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement:

Seemingly undeterred by the court’s decision, Risen himself, according to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, has vowed to continue to fight for his right to protect sources. Wemple tweeted:

Reaction on Twitter was also trending among journalists, free press advocates, and others:

Tweets about “James Risen”

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