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'Times' Reporter To Challenge Subpoena In Leak Case

Jun 21, 2011
Originally published on June 21, 2011 5:36 am

Jim Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, will ask a court Tuesday to throw out a Justice Department subpoena. Risen says he doesn't want to testify against a CIA agent accused of leaking classified information.

Risen has a history of digging for government secrets and finding pay dirt. He helped expose the government's warrantless wiretapping program. And he ventured into the shadows again to write a history of the CIA during President George W. Bush's years.

That book has landed him in the Justice Department's cross hairs. Prosecutors say it includes material from former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who is getting ready to go to trial for disclosing classified information.

"He's not going to identify his confidential sources, period," says Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Prosecutors have floated something of a compromise. They want Risen to testify that he interviewed Jeffrey Sterling, who's accused in the leak case, on another subject.

But Risen hasn't jumped at that idea, and that's setting up a showdown.

A judge could throw out the subpoena, embarrassing the Justice Department. Or, the judge could uphold the subpoena, a decision that could send Risen to jail instead of the witness stand.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Today a reporter for the New York Times will ask a court to throw out a subpoena from the Justice Department. He doesn't want to testify against a CIA agent who's accused of leaking classified information. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on the government's ongoing battle against leaks.

CARRIE JOHNSON: New York Times reporter Jim Risen has a history of digging for government secrets and finding pay dirt. Risen helped expose the government's warrantless wiretapping program. And he ventured into the shadows again to write a history of the CIA in the Bush years. That book has landed him in the Justice Department's cross hairs. Prosecutors say it includes material from a former CIA agent, Jeffrey Sterling. He's getting ready to go to trial for disclosing classified information.

LUCY DALGLISH: My name is Lucy Dalglish. I'm the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

JOHNSON: Dalglish says she's talked with Jim Risen about the case.

DALGLISH: His stance is, he's not going to identify his confidential sources. Period.

JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.