Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has joined The Nation, RootsAction, the Center for Media and Democracy, FAIR, The Progressive and the Freedom of the Press Foundation to support James Risen, a reporter who has refused to divulge information about a confidential source.
The US government is insisting that Risen testify against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who was accused of illegally leaking classified information that appeared in Risen’s book. Risen has said repeatedly that he won’t capitulate, a stance that could land him in jail. After all, as Ellsberg said, “without protecting confidentiality, investigative journalism required for accountability and democracy will wither and disappear.”
The campaign is urgent. Just last month, the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court not to take up Risen’s plea to hear his case and affirm a reporter’s privilege against testifying in criminal cases. Risen appealed to the High Court after a federal appeals court panel ruled against his effort last year.
Join Ellsberg, The Nation and a host of other organizations committed to protecting press freedom in calling on President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to halt all legal action against Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.
Josh Gerstein at Politico reports on the Obama administration’s recent decision to urge the Supreme Court not to take up Risen’s case.
Last year, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! covered the Committee to Protect Journalists’s first report on press freedom in the United States. The report asserts that officials are “reluctant to discuss even unclassified information…because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect them as sources.”