National Press Club

Club President calls law-enforcement actions 'unacceptable' at event

August 18, 2014 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver |

National Press Club President Myron Belkind told a event Aug. 14 that actions by Ferguson, Mo., police against journalists covering the violent protests there and federal law-enforcement efforts against James Risen are “unacceptable.”

Belkind’s remarks to open the private event held at the Club came one day after the Club issued a statement “expressing its deep concern about reports that at least two reporters –- from the Washington Post and the Huffington Post –- who were covering the unrest in Ferguson were manhandled and detained by police officers there before being released,” he said. “Other reports, backed up by video taken during the disturbances, show that some television crews were hampered by authorities from doing their professional duties.”

Risen is a New York Times reporter “who is refusing to name a source for information about a bungled CIA operation in Iran that appeared in his 2006 book State of War,” Belkind said. “We are pleased and honored that James Risen, who still is under threat of prison, could be with us today.”

A petition signed by more than 100,000 people, including 20 Pulitzer Prize winners, was recently delivered to the Department of Justice supporting Risen, Belkind said.

The Club awarded Risen its domestic Freedom of the Press Award in 2012 "for a career of reporting material the government would prefer to keep from public view -- from warrantless surveillance to the botched program to give Iran flawed nuclear weapons designs -- [and] recognized him for resisting government attempts to get him to reveal his confidential sources,” Belkind said.