New York Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of one of his alleged sources, who is accused of leaking national defense information to the press, after a federal appeals court ruled his testimony was critical to the case Friday.
Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling allegedly gave classified information to Risen, which the journalist reported in a book, according to the LA Times.
The U.S. Court of Appeals decision trumped a ruling made by a lower court, which declared that the first amendment to the Constitution protected Risen’s testimony, according to RT.com.
“The reporter must appear and give testimony just as every other citizen must. We are not at liberty to conclude otherwise,” said Chief Judge William Traxler Jr.
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Risen had previously refused to disclose if Sterling was his source of information.
Sterling is the seventh person the Obama administration has tried to prosecute for spying under the Espionage Act, which was used less frequently in previous administrations.
Some judges on the appeals court said the results of Sterling’s case may hinge on Risen’s testimony.
But Judge Roger Gregory, who voted against the court’s ultimate decision, said he disapproved of the majority decision and thinks it compromises the freedom of the press.
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Gregory said confidential sources have been critical to journalists who have reported on some of the government’s violations of law.
“The paramount importance of the free press guaranteed by our Constitution compels me to conclude that the First Amendment encompasses a qualified reporter’s privilege,” he said.