National Press Club

NPC Condemns Subpoena for Reporter in Leak Case

May 26, 2011 | By John Donnelly |

The National Press Club criticized Thursday a decision by the Justice Department to subpoena a New York Times reporter to testify in a criminal trial about who leaked him information for a book he wrote.

Federal prosecutors issued the subpoena May 23 with the support of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. The subpoena orders the reporter, James Risen, to testify in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA employee accused of leaking to Risen material for a book he wrote about the CIA.

"Reporters should not be forced to reveal confidential sources or be compelled to testify in cases involving people who are charged with leaking information to them," said Mark Hamrick, a broadcast journalist with the Associated Press, who is president of the National Press Club. "This sort of intimidation of a free press is unacceptable."

The Obama administration has decided to prosecute five alleged leakers, including Sterling. According to the New York Times, that is more than all previous presidents combined, though some of the cases were begun under the Bush administration.

The National Press Club, along with other media organizations, has supported legislation that would establish a national shield law that would protect reporters from efforts to force disclosure of confidential sources, except in limited circumstances.

The National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists.